Windows 7

Not that this should come as a huge shock to anybody, but Microsoft doesn’t plan to make Windows 7 available in a one size fits all package. As we’ve previously reported, there’s been evidence of multiple SKUs for a while. But now Microsoft has come out and confirmed that there will be 6 different versions of Windows 7.

Here’s the rundown:

  • Windows 7 Starter Edition – for netbooks and developing markets, only runs 3 apps at a time
  • Windows 7 Home Basic – also for emerging markets
  • Windows 7 Home Premium – this version gets you Windows Media Center and other home use features
  • Windows 7 Professional – the equivalent of Windows Vista Business, with extra security features
  • Windows 7 Enterprise – this version will be sold in volume licenses for businesses
  • Windows 7 Ultimate – has most of the features of the Enterprise version, but will be sold to end users

Microsoft will probably charge a different price for each version. One thing that’s interesting to note is that the Starter Edition is intended for netbooks, even though Windows 7 Ultimate beta has been widely reported to run just fine on low cost mini-laptops like the Asus Eee PC. The problem is that Microsoft can’t ask computer makers to pay full price for an operating system that will be sold with a $300 laptop. So the company created an intentionally crippled Starter Edition which will sell for a lower price.

Update: As many people have pointed out in the comments, Windows has offered Starter Edition software to customers in developing nations in the past. But Windows 7 Starter Edition is different, in that Microsoft will be offering it in developed nations for the first time, specifically for manufacturers who are looking for a low cost operating system to load on netbooks.

Check out our complete coverage of Windows 7:
Windows 7 hands on – Impressive at every turn
Another Windows 7 secret revealed; desktop to have slideshows
Run Windows 7 on two computers with one install
Windows 7’s Superbar in action – is it made for multitouch?
Windows 7 beta download extended