Late last month we reported that there would be five different versions of Windows 7 shipping. It turns out that the information wasn’t entirely complete -- instead, we will be seeing six different variations of the OS.
The full lineup of Windows 7, from bottom to top, are as follows: Windows 7 Starter, Windows 7 Home Basic (for Emerging Markets only), Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Enterprise and Windows 7 Ultimate. This follows the screenshot from build 7025, with the addition of the Professional version.
The SKU confusion from Windows Vista (which also landed Microsoft in some legal headaches) might be a little severe this time as Microsoft Senior Vice President Bill Veghte clarified, "We're going to focus on two versions," according to CNet.
We believe that the two main versions of Windows 7, at least within our markets, will be Home Premium and Professional.
As for the other versions, Windows 7 Starter will be quite limited with only being allowed to run three applications at a time, lower screen resolutions, no live thumbnail previews and limited processor support.
Home Basic will only be for emerging markets, and will be missing the Aero interface, multitouch support, DVD playback and Windows Media Center.
Home Premium will be the version targeted at most of the consumer market, and will predominantly be the one shipped with new PCs. It will contain all the features that are aimed at the user’s direct experience.
The Professional version adds on top of Home Premium brings with it more business and network options, such as an encrypted file system and location-aware printing services.
Enterprise is aimed at businesses buying in volume, and contain even more networking and business options. Consumers won’t see this one on the shelf.
Finally, the Ultimate edition contains every single feature of Windows 7 -- both work and play aspects -- and will be one that’s purchasable by consumers.
Interestingly enough, users of any version of Windows 7 will be able to upgrade from one version to any above it without having to reinstall. According to CNet, each install of Windows 7 will contain the complete feature set, with only an upgraded key required to unlock a higher version.
As for the release date of Windows 7, nobody really knows yet. We’re still waiting for the release candidate.