Windows Vista Versions: Which Is Right For You?

The 5 Versions of Windows Vista What is Right for You?

With the recent release of Windows Vista there are still many questions about the different versions, and which one is right for the consumer. I have been in the IT field for over 15 years and I remember the days of old (DOS), when you just bought the newest version of an OS and that was that.

When Microsoft released Windows XP, even with 4 versions, you were still pretty confident in which version you needed to install on your home or work pc. Unfortunately with the release of Windows Vista, things are not as clear as I believe they should be. It also makes it difficult for the reseller to stock all of the versions that may be required to meet the needs of the consumer. I personally frequent many local “Mom and Pop” computer stores in my area and I don’t see how it would be cost effective to stock all of the versions that they need to.

So, why did Microsoft create all of these versions? Was it to make more money by being more appealing to more users who may not currently NEED an upgrade? Was it because they are still trying to keep the home user, traveling users, and enterprise users separate in their day to day use of a pc? Maybe it’s the infamous Enterprise Security scare that we hear so much about. Either way, I am going to show you the different versions and which one might be right for you.

Microsoft’s Product Details From The Official Vista Site:

Home Basic
Windows Vista Home Basic is ideal for homes with basic computing needs like e-mail, browsing the Internet, and viewing photos. Easy to set up and maintain, it enables you to quickly find what you’re looking for on your PC and the Internet, while providing a more secure environment to help protect you from an unpredictable world.

Home Premium
Windows Vista Home Premium is the preferred edition for home desktop and mobile PCs. It provides a breakthrough design that brings your world into sharper focus while delivering the productivity, entertainment, and security you need from your PC at home or on the go

Business
Windows Vista Business is the first edition of Windows designed specifically to meet the needs of small businesses. You’ll spend less time on technology support-related issues—so you can spend more time making your business successful. Windows Vista Business is the definitive choice for your business today and tomorrow.

Enterprise
Designed to significantly lower IT costs and risks, Windows Vista Enterprise meets the needs of large, global organizations with complex IT infrastructures.

Ultimate
Windows Vista Ultimate is the choice for those who want to have it all. Easily shift between the worlds of productivity and play with the most complete edition of Windows Vista. Ultimate provides the power, security, and mobility features needed for work.

Now in layman’s terms:

Home Basic
This version may be Microsoft’s inexpensive way to dealing with some of the users that are rapidly switching over to Linux as a cost effective way to surf the Internet and check email. As the name implies, this version contains basic operating system features, with none of the bells and whistles. This version is suitable for most average home users.
Suggested retail price for full package product, $199.00 USD.
Suggested upgrade retail price, $99.95 USD.

Home Premium
This version is designed for more advanced home users who want to use the Windows AERO desktop, which contains dynamic reflections and transparent menu bars. It contains additional functionality not included with the Home Basic edition such as the Windows Media Center. We will probably see this on a large number of new pre-manufactured computers. Suggested retail price for full package product, $239.00 USD.
Suggested upgrade retail price, $159.00 USD.

Vista Business
This version is very comparable to Windows XP Professional. It has all of the security needed to connect to a large scale network domain infrastructure, as well as having the standard business features required for a corporate desktop computer. This will probably be the version we see most in businesses as the Windows Vista Enterprise edition is only available to Volume License customers who have PCs covered by Microsoft Software Assurance.
Suggested retail price for full package product, $299.00 USD.
Suggested upgrade retail price, $199.00 USD.

Vista Enterprise
Windows Enterprise offers a lot of new and advanced features such as the BitLocker Drive Encryption, (SUA) Subsystem for UNIX-based Applications, Application and Legacy OS compatibility tools, and support for multiple languages.
No Suggested retail pricing available, the Licensing for this product is only available through Volume Licensing.

Vista Ultimate
Windows Vista Ultimate offers all of the features found in Windows Vista Home Premium, including Windows Media Center, Windows Movie Maker with high-definition support, and Windows DVD Maker. It also offers all of the features found in Windows Vista Business, including business networking, centralized management tools, and advanced system backup features. This would be my choice for my home pc because I am an avid gamer and have a large home network.
Suggested retail price for full package product, $399.00 USD.
Suggested upgrade retail price, $259.00 USD.

Final Note:
I have always been a firm believer in utilizing newsgroups and blogs to find out what the educated public thinks, for a lot of my technology needs. Your local pc shops can be very helpful in your decision when choosing your new operating system. Most decent shops are part of the MSDN and have beta copies of Vista that they have been testing for over a year. They should know the version you should purchase based on the needs that you present to them. So don’t just go buy a version of Vista to have the newest operating system, try and do the research and make sure you have the right one before you waste any money.

Good luck.

 Richard Correa, MCP, MCSA, MCSE, MCDBA
Senior Network Engineer
DTIData – DTI Networks

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