A few minutes ago I checked Windows Update on one of my Windows 7 test systems and found a handful of updates waiting for me. I was expecting the test updates (documented by my ZDNet colleague, Mary Jo Foley, a couple days ago). But I was pleasantly surprised to see some other optional updates as well, specifically, language packs for French, German, Spanish, and Japanese.
Microsoft hasn’t officially released the list of what’s going to be in each edition of Windows 7 yet (Paul Thurrott has reverse-engineered a list that appears to be pretty accurate, based on what I’ve seen and heard).
But here’s the bottom line. For most people, Windows 7 Ultimate will be an unnecessary luxury. Today’s updates illustrate one of only two significant (for consumers, anyway) features that will be part of the Ultimate package:
- Windows 7 Ultimate Language Packs When Windows 7 is released, it will include a much broader selection of available languages than today’s limited selection. If you want the ability to switch between two or more languages for using Windows, this feature alone might justify paying a premium.
- Bitlocker and Bitlocker To Go drive encryption For enterprises, drive encryption is an extremely desirable feature, especially in industries that are required by law to protect sensitive data from the risk of being accessed by unauthorized parties. BitLocker encrypts the entire drive, making data on that drive inaccessible to a notebook thief. BitLocker To Go (which I wrote about in “What to expect from Windows 7” last week) offers similar protection for USB flash drives and other removable media.
Every other feature available in Ultimate edition is designed for use with advanced corporate networks: BranchCache, AppLocker, enterprise search scopes in Federated Search, and so on. If you’re interested in those features, you likely qualify for volume licensing and should consider Windows 7 Enterprise, which is the VL version of Ultimate.
If you use a single language as your Windows interface and you don’t need BitLocker encryption, Windows 7 Professional will have everything you need.