Windows Vista to be available in six versions

Windows Vista to be available in six versions

Last weekend, Microsoft revealed the six editions into which it plans to package Windows Vista - only to remove the information from its European website a day later, and deny that it had made a final decision.

Information posted on the Microsoft website revealed that the company was planning six basic editions of Vista, plus two more "N" versions, which don't bundle Windows Media Player, in compliance with European Union (EU) anti-trust sanctions.

Two of the editions correspond roughly to Windows XP Home Edition and XP Pro, with an extra Home edition bundling Media Center features, two more enterprise-oriented editions with extra features, and a stripped-down version without Vista's graphics or 64-bit capabilities.

On Monday, Microsoft said the information was "incomplete" and had been posted "prematurely," for "testing purposes".

According to the removed information, Windows Starter 2007 is the most basic version, and doesn't use the Vista branding because it doesn't include Vista's Aero graphics system, and will only ship in a 32-bit version. This may correspond to the currently offered Windows XP Starter Edition, which sells more cheaply than other versions of XP, and is aimed at developing countries.

Windows Vista Home Basic is aimed at single-PC homes and is the most basic version of Vista. Home Basic N is the same, but without Media Player. Vista Home Premium adds Media Center and Media Center Extender functionality, including support for Cable Card.

Windows Vista Business is the most basic professional edition, with Business N removing Media Player. Vista Enterprise adds features such as Virtual PC, multi-language user interface and "Cornerstone" technologies - Secure Startup and full volume encryption. Vista Ultimate adds still more, as yet undisclosed features.

Microsoft has previously said it would create an Enterprise edition specifically for subscribers to its unpopular Software Assurance licensing plan. The company has also previously said it would roll Media Center features into other editions.

Industry watchers have also expected the company to offer a version aimed at small businesses, something omitted from the briefly published lineup.

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