MS: Six versions of Windows 7 for sake of PC makers, users

Windows 7 Home Premium aimed at the majority of consumers and Windows 7 Professional at businesses.

While it plans to focus on marketing two versions of Windows 7, Microsoft will offer six editions of its next operating system to better satisfy PC makers and end users, an executive said this week.

"We did a lot of research and talked to a lot of [hardware] partners and customers," said Mike Ybarra, general manager for Windows, told Computerworld following the announcement that it would sell six flavors of Windows 7.

"Our biggest challenge is that we have over 1 billion customers," Ybarra said. "It's hard to satisfy all of them [with a single version]. There are vocal customers who want every feature, and more regular consumers who say 'I want a version that can grow with me.'"

Microsoft said today that it will aim Windows 7 Home Premium at the majority of consumers and Windows 7 Professional at businesses. That harks back to Windows XP, which had two main SKUs: Home and Professional.

However, Microsoft will maintain all of the four other versions it offered with Vista, including the controversial Home Basic, the Starter Edition that was until now restricted to developing countries, Enterprise and Ultimate. That 'SKU proliferation' confused many consumers and corporate customers.

Apple releases a single version of Mac OS X with every new release. It does have far fewer users than Windows, with some estimates claiming between 30 million to 50 million users worldwide today.

Matt Rosoff, an analyst with the independent firm Directions on Microsoft, says that keeping the number of versions high is all part of Microsoft's attempt to segment the market and "maintain the average-price-per-unit of Windows sales in developed countries to counteract the effects of price pressure in developing countries, where most growth is happening."

Rosoff thinks Microsoft's rejiggered lineup is "simpler" for consumers, but remains too complicated for businesses, who will have to "check the feature list carefully" in order to choose between Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate.

Microsoft did consider cutting Ultimate, a pricey, fully-loaded version that in Windows Vista was aimed at gamers and enthusiasts.

"We're keeping it because a lot of top [PC makers] wanted it in order to let them differentiate their own hardware," Ybarra said.

Windows 7 Ultimate won't have any unique multimedia features, but will share the same advanced networking and security features as Windows 7 Enterprise, which is available to large corporations through volume licensing, Ybarra said.

Rosoff expects Ultimate to embraced by businesses rather than enthusiasts, because they will seek to avoid locking themselves into a multi-year license agreement as is required by the Enterprise version.

Rather than cutting Home Basic altogether, Microsoft chose to sell it only in developing markets, where very-cheap PCs are in demand, Ybarra said. "[PC makers] need to hit multiple price points: good, better and best," he said.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Windows 7

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Eric Lai

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?