Windows Vista to come in seven flavors

Ars Technica has the scoop on the seven separate flavors of Windows Vista we'll all be able to choose from, though no price points have been mentioned yet. The OS versions run the gamut from a crippled, half-functional "Starter Edition", two versions of Vista Home (Basic and Premium), three versions of Vista Professional (Professional, Small Business, and Enterprise Edition), and finally, for the user that wants it all: Windows Vista Ultimate Edition (cue oohing and ahhing). Ars has some details on the differences between the versions; the upshot is that the Vista Home segment will contain more multimedia and (DRM-protected) content features, while Vista Professional series dumps the multimedia stuff to concentrate on business-oriented uses. Ultimate Edition will contain all the features found in Vista Home Premium and Vista Enterprise Edition, and then add a further superset of features.

Microsoft could conceivably do some interesting things with price points here; a $49-69 pricetag on Windows Vista Basic might help Redmond compete against the low-end Linux boxes that've popped up on the market, and would be welcomed by system builders as a product "good enough" for users who truly need only basic functionality. On the other hand, PC makers often aggressively upsell an OS, either by selecting a higher-end version by default, or with statements like the prominent one on HP's website: "HP Recommends Windows XP Professional."

Windows Vista Home versions and Windows Version Ultimate won't support corporate or volume licensing, by the way—only business versions will be available in flavors that don't require product activation.

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