If you were hoping that Microsoft would cut the number of Windows 7 editions down to just one, you’re disappointed today. But if you’re willing to settle for three, your wishes have come true.
Well, sort of.
I’ve got more details over at ZDNet. (See Microsoft simplifies the Windows 7 lineup.) But here’s the short version:
- Windows 7 Home Premium is the new entry level, with Media Center and better backup features than the equivalent Vista edition.
- Windows 7 Professional replaces Vista Business. It includes every feature from Home Premium (Media Center included) plus Remote Desktop host and support for Windows domains. It’s a straight upgrade from Home Premium.
- Windows 7 Ultimate and Windows 7 Enterprise are the same product, with the Enterprise name used for customers who buy in huge volume through Select license agreements.
Windows 7 Home Basic will be available only in emerging markets and will not be sold in the U.S., Western Europe, and other developed countries.
And were you looking for something to run your netbook? In the U.S., the only available downgrade from Home Premium is the severely hobbled Starter Edition, which can run only three programs at a time. (Yes, Starter Edition was previously only available in emerging markets. Now it’s available worldwide, and Microsoft has banished Home Basic to the hinterlands. Go figure.)
I’m still trying to figure out exactly what Microsoft is thinking when it comes to netbooks. But the rest of this seems like very good news, especially the revamped Anytime Upgrade feature, which lets you “unlock” the features for an upgrade in 10 minutes or less, without having to go through the hassle of a full upgrade.