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Microsoft: We Need for 6 Windows 7 SKUs

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.

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • nottheking
    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.
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  • scryer_360
    Wait, all the editions will be on one disk? Won't that just be hack-bait?
    Reply
  • Vista's were all 1 disk
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  • jsloan
    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...
    Reply
  • Marcus Yam
    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."
    Reply
  • One crack One Kill

    (No further comment)
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  • 1 crack 1 kill
    Reply
  • jaragon13
    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.
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  • Voyager_03
    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.
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  • BallistaMan
    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.
    Reply