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Microsoft: We Need for 6 Windows 7 SKUs

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 21 comments

Yesterday, we learned that Microsoft would be shipping Windows 7 in six different versions -- but it won’t be as confusing as the different versions of Vista, explains Windows general manager Mike Ybarra.

While there will be six known versions of Windows 7 coming at launch, Microsoft assures that most of us will only have to deal with two. “With Windows 7 there will be two primary editions: Windows 7 Home Premium, and Windows 7 Professional. We think those two SKUs will meet most customers needs,” said Ybarra.

Of course, some may argue that so many different SKUs just cause consumer confusion -- which is a warranted complaint on some levels -- but Microsoft’s operating system is so ubiquitous that it has to serve everyone and at different levels. Apple’s single version of Mac OS X is great simplicity, but the reach of Apple’s computers can’t compare to Windows.

Ybarra explained, “Within a customer base of over one billion, there are a lot of important customer niches, or segments, and we want to make sure we have an appropriate product for everybody.”

So the rainbow of versions are here to stay, but at least Microsoft appears to have incorporated some common sense between the different versions.

“The first change in Windows 7 was to make sure that editions of Windows 7 are a superset of one another. That is to say, as customers upgrade from one version to the next, they keep all features and functionality from the previous edition,” said Ybarra. “As an example, some business customers using Windows Vista Business wanted the Media Center functionality that is in Windows Vista Home Premium but didn’t receive it in Business edition. Customers won’t have to face that trade-off with Windows 7. With Windows 7 there is a more natural progression from one edition to the next.”

As we learned yesterday, all different versions of Windows 7 will ship on the same disc image. Those wanting to upgrade to a higher-tiered version simply need to purchase a new product key to “unlock” the additional features.

See our coverage of the different Windows 7 versions here.

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  • 0 Hide
    nottheking , February 5, 2009 8:53 PM
    Perhaps the better news that they should've brought up is that the first two versions shouldn't be showing up in the "western world" in the first place, making it only four relevant versions that we'll have to see, one of which won't be on store shelves. That'd cut us to Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate, which would make things a lot easier; the big way they could improve then would be to drop "Premium" from "Home Premium" and rename the non-US "Home Basic" to something less flattering.

    One concern, though, is that I wouldn't be surprised in the least to see some companies shoving off PCs equipped with Home Basic onto users. I think that such should be something that should be heavily addressed, since I'm predicting it will happen, even in the USA and Europe.
  • 2 Hide
    scryer_360 , February 5, 2009 9:09 PM
    Wait, all the editions will be on one disk? Won't that just be hack-bait?
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , February 5, 2009 9:26 PM
    Vista's were all 1 disk
  • Display all 21 comments.
  • 1 Hide
    jsloan , February 5, 2009 9:59 PM
    basically they have a way for people to go from the installation they have to the ultimate edition by paying microsoft directly and bypassing the stores, ect...
  • 2 Hide
    Marcus Yam , February 5, 2009 10:12 PM
    NotthekingPerhaps the better news that they should've brought up is that the first two versions shouldn't be showing up in the "western world" in the first place, making it only four relevant versions that we'll have to see, one of which won't be on store shelves. That'd cut us to Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate, which would make things a lot easier; the big way they could improve then would be to drop "Premium" from "Home Premium" and rename the non-US "Home Basic" to something less flattering.One concern, though, is that I wouldn't be surprised in the least to see some companies shoving off PCs equipped with Home Basic onto users. I think that such should be something that should be heavily addressed, since I'm predicting it will happen, even in the USA and Europe.

    Actually, Windows 7 Starter is supposed to be a part of the "Western World" SKUs as well, making it five versions. Starter won't be retail though.

    Ybarra said: "We’ll also continue to offer Windows Starter edition, which will only be offered pre-installed by an OEM. Windows Starter edition will now be available worldwide. This edition is available only in the OEM channel on new PCs limited to specific types of hardware."

    Brad Brooks of Microsoft also said: "For OEMs that build lower-cost small notebook PCs, Windows 7 Starter will now be available in developed markets."
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , February 5, 2009 10:29 PM
    One crack One Kill

    (No further comment)
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , February 5, 2009 10:35 PM
    1 crack 1 kill
  • 1 Hide
    jaragon13 , February 5, 2009 10:49 PM
    Will the Windows 7 desktop versions be only 64 bit? Please,for the love of god,I hate seeing crappy 32 bit or 64 bit and great vice versa...I just want one driver for one OS,for one piece of my computer.
  • 2 Hide
    Voyager_03 , February 5, 2009 11:07 PM
    Is Windows 7 that revolutionary that it must be a new product from what Vista was intended to be? Why not role out a proper service pack that takes Vista to the level of Windows 7? Maybe this will create some positive press that will let MS still turn a profit from Vista while building good will amongst the customer base. Why did MS try so hard to convince us to by Vista through the Mojave Experiment? I am tired of MS leaving orphaned operating systems. Remember Windows ME? Those that bought systems with Vista or those that upgraded from XP deserve not to be left in the dust for sake of marketing a new product. And in this time of financial uncertainty...is MS really doing us any favours? I'm not bashing MS for the sake of it...I only see such news so close on the heals of Vista as disregard for those of us that try to stay loyal to MS despite themselves.
  • 2 Hide
    BallistaMan , February 5, 2009 11:31 PM
    jaragon13Will the Windows 7 desktop versions be only 64 bit? Please,for the love of god,I hate seeing crappy 32 bit or 64 bit and great vice versa...I just want one driver for one OS,for one piece of my computer.

    Microsoft has stated that there will be both 32 and 64 bit versions of 7, but that the vast majority will be 64 bit. They've also said it will be the last OS with 32 bit support.
  • 3 Hide
    daveloft , February 5, 2009 11:40 PM
    Voyager_03Is Windows 7 that revolutionary that it must be a new product from what Vista was intended to be? Why not role out a proper service pack that takes Vista to the level of Windows 7? Maybe this will create some positive press that will let MS still turn a profit from Vista while building good will amongst the customer base. Why did MS try so hard to convince us to by Vista through the Mojave Experiment? I am tired of MS leaving orphaned operating systems. Remember Windows ME? Those that bought systems with Vista or those that upgraded from XP deserve not to be left in the dust for sake of marketing a new product. And in this time of financial uncertainty...is MS really doing us any favours? I'm not bashing MS for the sake of it...I only see such news so close on the heals of Vista as disregard for those of us that try to stay loyal to MS despite themselves.


    The only problem with Vista today is with the name, renaming it makes sense to me. I don't see any issue in releasing a new version 3 years later. Windows 95 - Windows 98 - Windows 98 SE - Windows ME all in the span of 5 or so years was much worse. Apple updates OSX almost yearly.
  • 0 Hide
    randomizer , February 6, 2009 2:18 AM
    BallistaManMicrosoft has stated that there will be both 32 and 64 bit versions of 7, but that the vast majority will be 64 bit. They've also said it will be the last OS with 32 bit support.

    I think it's just that there will be no more native 32-bit OSs. You'll still get WOW64 for running 32-bit applications on a 64-bit OS (or M$ is shooting themselves in the foot).
  • 0 Hide
    nottheking , February 6, 2009 5:21 AM
    Marcus YamActually, Windows 7 Starter is supposed to be a part of the "Western World" SKUs as well, making it five versions. Starter won't be retail though.

    Heh, that pretty much just will result in more or less what I thought... I kinda still wish they're re-name it something else to highlight that it's the crippled edition, like perhaps calling it "Lite" or something else that has strong connotations of stuff trimmed off. I can imagine a similar sort of controversy a year or two from now, when Windows 7 is reality, and people with Windows 7 Starter will be confused because what they have really wouldn't be quite Windows 7, much in the same way that Vista Home Basic largely wasn't quite Vista.

    Yes, there might be some "limitations" as to what hardware the OEMs may install it on, but I'm willing to bet that at least a couple will likely try to test the boundary to see how much they can use that incredibly-cheap version of Windows on more mainstream units and hence reap the benefits of claiming it's a Windows 7 PC when it isn't. Not really Microsoft's fault, but still something that perhaps it's a good idea for them to protect themselves against such a liklihood.
  • 0 Hide
    randomizer , February 6, 2009 5:23 AM
    They'll see that it's crippled when they try to run more than 3 applications at once.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , February 6, 2009 5:53 AM
    No! Users don't need like 50 different versions of Windows. We need one and only one. Recently I had the following problem. We buy our laptops with pre-installed Windows. You cannot buy them Windows-free and they come with Home editions usually.
    I needed to update the firmware of an expensive piece of equipment but none of the Vista or XP laptops was able to properly install the USB driver for that thing. Guess what? It would run only on "professional".

    Great Microsoft! Just great! This company has always f--- their customers! Overpriced, low quality products and now 50 versions of Windows that create incompatibility problems.

    The only reason I've not switched to another OS is the lack of software for them.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , February 6, 2009 12:44 PM
    Actually while windows 7 has a thematic feel similar to vista and lots of other similarities, it has so many more improvements and features that rolling out a service pack wouldn't cut it.

    The whole idea behind serial numbers to unlock features has been around for oh so long and let's be honest, what does it matter what anyone releases and how, it will be cracked no matter what, so why not just make it easier on the consumer, the cracker may be slowed a little if you go another route, but they will never be deterred.
  • 0 Hide
    TwoDigital , February 6, 2009 12:56 PM
    Microsoft confirmed they'll be releasing a 32-bit Windows 7. I, with others, wish they wouldn't but since Windows 7 has the same hardware requirements as Vista they probably would have gotten too much heat if they had limited it to the x64-enabled chips. There are a lot of fairly speedy P3/P4/AMD chips out there without the 64-bit address ability.

    As far as versions, why not do what they did with XP and Win2K? Produce a 'home' and 'professional' version where 'home' is only missing domain and enterprise features (pro would = ultimate, home would = home premium.) They could add the third "basic" in the mix if they really wanted to. Six versions still seems really anal.
  • 1 Hide
    djtrailmixxx , February 6, 2009 3:05 PM
    Hmmm, why not bitch about how many distros of linux there are:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux_distros
    Or charging money for what is essentially a service pack:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mac_OS_X
  • 1 Hide
    martel80 , February 6, 2009 4:19 PM
    djtrailmixxxHmmm, why not bitch about how many distros of linux there are:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux_distros
    Last time I checked, all these distros were not made by a single company and are not an upgraded/downgraded version of each other. :) 
  • 0 Hide
    tenor77 , February 6, 2009 6:38 PM
    If you're running a 32bit computer it's time to upgrade your hardware. As long as they give emulation for 32 bit programs I say cut the cord and make a clean break for 64 bit. I'm tired of having a 64 bit processor and not being able to make good use of it and the other half of my ram.
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