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February 27, 2006

Microsoft unveils Vista Lineup

Posted by David Hunter at 8:25 AM ET.

Microsoft yesterday put an end to all the speculation, by formally releasing the lineup for the versions of Windows Vista that will be available when it ships later this year:

The Windows Vista product lineup consists of six versions, two for businesses, three for consumers, and one for emerging markets: Windows Vista Business, Windows Vista Enterprise, Windows Vista Home Basic, Windows Vista Home Premium, Windows Vista Ultimate and Windows Vista Starter. The number of offerings is the same as the number of offerings currently available for Windows® XP. More important, the lineup is designed to deliver clear value to a broad range of customers, each product tailored to meet specific needs of various segments of customers — home PC users, small and medium-sized businesses and the largest enterprises — and is aimed at bringing 64-bit, Media Center and Tablet PC functionality into the mainstream.

The Windows XP comparison is rather misleading since some Windows XP versions (e.g. 64-bit, Tablet) were hardware specific and the Vista versions are function specific. Here’s a quick rundown:

Windows Vista Business
- 32 or 64-bit
- Aero UI capable
- Integrated desktop search
- Tablet PC capable

Windows Vista Enterprise
- Everything in Vista Business
- Includes BitLocker drive encryption, and Virtual PC Express, and Subsystem for Unix-based Applications.
- Only available under Microsoft Software Assurance or a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement

Windows Vista Home Basic
- For “basic” home computing
- 32 or 64-bit but no Aero
- Includes home features such as a new Search Explorer, Sidebar and Parental Controls.

Windows Vista Home Premium
- Everything in Vista Home Basic
- Aero UI capable
- Integrated desktop search
- Tablet PC capable
- Windows Media Center capable
- Integrated DVD burning and creation

Windows Vista Ultimate
- “All the entertainment features, mobility features and business-oriented features available in Windows Vista” which I take to mean “all of the above.”

Windows Vista Starter
- Limited function version with very basic features for developing countries
- 32-bit only

All the details are not spelled out, but I can think of several quibbles. Most obviously, the distinction between the Business and Home families seems fairly arbitrary. I wonder how many businesses will just opt for Ultimate if it really comes with everything? All this variation is also a hidden cost for OEM’s who stock prebuilt systems and I wouldn’t be surprised if they did a lot of narrowing down of choices as well.

Pricing wasn’t revealed and that, of course, adds another dimension. Support wasn’t mentioned either, but presumably the Home family will follow the current home support model while Business and Ultimate will follow the business support model. Finally, there was no mention of “N” versions without Windows Media Player for the European Union, but presumably there will be such versions of at least some of the above.

Update: Scott Braden presents a skeptical view at Redmond magazine. Teaser:

If you think Microsoft will be offering the many upcoming versions of Office and Vista simply in the name of consumer choice, then Braden’s got a bridge he’d like to sell you.

Filed under Aero, General Business, Marketing, OS - Client, Technologies, Windows Vista

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4 Responses to “Microsoft unveils Vista Lineup”

  1. Computerworld Blogs Says:

    Vista, the sexpartite OS (and teeny tiny teevee tuner)

    Welcome to today’s IT Blogwatch, in which we count the ways we love Vista, are confused by the answer, and discover how to shrink a TV tuner to fit inside a Lifesaver hole…

  2. Microsoft News Tracker » Dog bites man: Microsoft will provide special EU versions of Vista Says:

    [...] As expected, but unmentioned in this week’s formal announcement of Vista SKUs. Reuters has the story: Microsoft will construct a special version of its new Windows Vista operating system without audio-visual software to meet a European Union decision, its European president said on Wednesday. [...]

  3. Microsoft News Tracker » Microsoft to offer instant Vista upgrades Says:

    [...] Ed Bott ties together the announced Vista versions with the previously rumored “Anytime Upgrade” plan: Today at Ed Bott’s Microsoft Report on ZDNet, I listed some of the upgrade scenarios that will be possible when Windows Vista ships. All three consumer versions – Home Basic, Home Premium, and Ultimate – will be included on the same CD or DVD. You don’t need to go to the store and purchase a new shrink-wrapped box to upgrade; all you have to do is go to Control Panel and run the Windows Anytime Upgrade program. [...]

  4. Microsoft News Tracker » Dog bites man: Microsoft plans huge Vista PR blitz Says:

    [...] More by following the link, but here’s the interesting part. Since Vista comes in so many different flavors, one of the goals is a “50 percent run rate for Windows Vista premium in the first 24 months.” Premium in this context is not specifically Vista Home Premium, but any of the upscale versions of Vista for home or business. [...]

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