When it comes to Windows 7, Microsoft should resist the usual inner demons. A new client operating system from Microsoft is the gift that keeps giving. You don't get just one version. You get lots of different versions. There currently exist five editions - or SKUs - of Windows Vista, while its predecessor Windows XP came in six …
What if you are a very small business with a PC used for business and entertainment purposes - what SKU then?
Yes, make two SKU but...
Only two SKUs, but consumers need most of what you call "business" level features.
Make the dividing line the premium features such as software virtualization, expanded distribution tools and enhanced management tools while putting the rest into the base version. Features like backup, previous versions, security and DVD burning are necessary everywhere.
It it is very nice to be able to run a VPC to browse the web keeping your physical system safe. So include license to allow the ability to run as VPC in the base version would be appreciated.
So, to follow the Vista SKUs, make Vista Ultimate the standard version and Vista Enterprise the upscale business version.
And finally, make the OS available without the stupid Software Assurance tie-in crap you're pushing. No one wants to rent their OS! Sell an maintenance / upgrade assurance program separately and quit tying features into the program.
I give you credit...
because you get it right everywhere else in the article, but: fewer, not less.
"Less SKUs would help Microsoft..."
Windows and MacOS
As a Mac user, I am obviously going to side in Apple's favour in the perennial debate,
but I think it fair to point out that Apple do not have the stranglehold over OEM companies
that Microsoft do. Apple only get paid for a shipped OSX (notionally) when they also ship
an actual Mac. I say 'notionally' because they can't really 'pay themselves', can they ?
Microsoft, on the other hand, are absolved from the responsibility of having to actually
create any computers and yet their revenue stream is astronomically high because of OEM
I think that Apple's burgeoning market share is well deserved, considering that they are not
playing the numbers game with OEM firms, and that their reputation rests solely on the
innovative synergy of their hardware and OS (iTunes and iPhone problems
To a great extent, Microsoft's policies remind me of buying a rail ticket in England 25
years ago - the number of bewildering fare options almost tended to put one off the idea of
travelling at all ...
Why do you need a netbook edition?
I'm currently running 7 Ultimate Beta on my Eee1000H and it flies - so why do I need a cut down netbook version? (aside from making Microsoft money of course :)
It even uses the two virtual cores of the machine in a better manner than XP (where one core was maxed out the machine stoped on XP, with 7 I keeps on ticking :))
Bring on the RTM so I can whack it on my main machines as well!
Aero versus Aero Glass
Quote: "It [presumably Vista Home Basic] doesn't even have the Aero interface of the others, a fact that has landed Microsoft in legal hot water with customers who feel cheated."
Actually, Vista Home Basic uses the Aero interface by default, just not Aero Glass.
OSX has one flavour?
OSX comes in two flavours: Vanilla and Server.
Sell the bits separately
Why not sell the extra parts separately?
If the basic version does most of what I want, but I'd like to join a domain and use virtualisation, I should be able to pay a (small) extra amount to download and use those features, without having to pay for all the stuff I don't need.
If they did that with IE8 then maybe the EC would leave them alone.
Lots of SKU's
Microsoft have customers with different needs. If those needs involve running legacy software designed for Windows, then Microsoft can make them pay through the nose. If a customer only needs Firefox, then Microsoft needs a cheap option to prevent users getting accustomed to Linux. Microsoft have skill at dividing customers by needs, and charging what they can get away with.
Apple has chosen a market segment that will pay money for something that gets the job done without having to learn about options. Apple customers may be paying for features that they do not need, but in the opinion of those customers, it is worth the money to avoid wasting time making a choice.
Each business model appears to work as both companies understand their customers.
It's an operating system ...
... and a poor one at that.
There should be one version, and that is it. Any other 'features' that would be included in a different 'SKU' could just be added as an extra available for download free of charge, or heck they could force their users to buy them. "Want 'Sooper dooper extra secure virus free Windows Search'? Download it for £10/Free."
At the end of the day the current multitude versions of Windows are nothing but crippleware. You have features that have been disabled just so the company can extract a lot more money from people. They are hoping that people buy the wrong version and then repurchase the correct version.
Windows fanboys are always going on about how there are too many Linux distros. Yes, there are a lot of Linux distros out there but they ALL HAVE ONE THING IN COMMON: every single Linux distro is the full version. Anything not included on the disc is available to download at any time. No crippled functionaltiy, no 'features' disabled. What one can do, the others can potentially do.
In the world of operating systems, only Microsoft offers crippled versions for sale - not in the hope of helping their customers, because it doesn't, but in the hope of extracting more money from people. Right from the beginning, at the start of Microsoft, they have been interested in one thing and one thing only - money.
A lot of the past business SKU features are now an essential in any home network. Reliable and easy networking (would be a novelty!!), transparent and brain dead easy backup have all become commonplace for any home user who has built up a collection of music/photos/movies... Given the economic climate (wonder if we can blame that on carbon footprints?) MS needs to get the SKU count and the pricing just right to avoid another Vista screw-up. If they don't resist their multiple SKU, "milk the saps for all they have" approach to OS marketing then despite the improvements in Windows 7 it'll go down like a burning zeppelin.
How about a single SKU that is configurable on install?
The installer asks a simple question: Which option do you want? and then gives you three options: Home cofiguration, Business configuration or Custom, which lets admins and power users install the features they want.
One price, one SKU and everyone's happy.
Or is that too difficult?
SKUs a PITA for testers
I'm currently system testing some software I've written. I'm the sole developer with limited resources but have to test on a minimum of Home Basic and the business editions of Vista (I'm assuming - perhaps incorrectly - that if it works on those two it will work on anything).
A separate netbook edition will just be another thing we have to test on AND will require a physical machine to test it. At least all the others can be created as VMs on the server for an RDP. And one extra thing to test might not sound like much but that's 50% more testing. In my case, three months rather than two.
So where does this leave Windows CE?
It's clear that people don't want cut-down Windows on cut-down machines, they want full blown Windows, be it XP or otherwise. CE may have had a purpose when the hardware was limited, but we're now able to make devices as small and light as the original CE mini laptops but with full laptop features and battery life.
If there is a netBook version of Windows 7, where will that leave their official line on CE, or whatever it's called these days?
The real reason for many SKUs
There's no technical justification for multiple SKUs in the OS, save for the 32/64-bit distinction. If you have truly massive iron, the OS might find itself managing many gigs of RAM and dozens of processors, but the algorithms for doing that efficiently will work perfectly well if they find themselves on a single core with only 128MB of RAM, and if you really feel you need to take shortcuts for performance reasons, there is this thing called a conditional branch in the instruction set. It might add a few dozen kilobytes to the size of your kernel image.
No, Microsoft's many-SKUed OS results from the fact that they differ in the applications and tools bloat that is bundled. MS could sell that separately, rather like all their competitors in those markets have to. But then they wouldn't be (illegally) leveraging their OS monopoly into those other markets, and that would never do. It would also be possible for customers to buy the OS cheaply and only pay for the extras as and when they wanted them, rather than having to predict everything they will ever want to do with the computer at the moment that they buy it.
Don't hold your breath
The netbook arena is already so cut throat that OEM's are promoting cheaper Linux versions alongside XP, something that MS had by fair means or foul managed to dissuade them from even considering for Desktops and Laptops.
Lots of versions allows MS to set tiered pricing all the way up to the insanely profitable "Windows Awesome™".
If MS dropped to 2 versions, the consumer variant would inevitably gravitate to the minimal profit Netbook pricing regardless of what system it was dropped onto causing the Business variant pricing to fall in kind because otherwise it's going to look stupidly overpriced in comparison.
Fuck the users, that's not going to go down well with the shareholders.
MS will always do at least 2 systems so they can charge a premium for domain logon. They will also do different versions for the eu than the US with teh new anti trust thing going on, but charge more for the cut down version making sure nobody buys them.
There is no reason for more than one version. They build the complete package then cut stuff out.
I Don't Care About SKUs
I don't really care about SKUs. It's a pain no doubt. Instead of SKUs, why not let the customer install only what they need. I'm so tire of what Microsoft "thinks" we need or should need. There should only be one version but let the clients have to option of pick and choose which option/feature they want to install. It would have the standard option for the regular folks and an advanced option for the techno guru who must install only necessary features. Redhat Fedora has this ability in the version that I have seen. I love it.
Bottom line, having we have enough of Microsoft bloatware over the years? My XPS M1210 can barely run Vista. What a joke.
Home users, 3 SKU's - one Home Basic netbook-y one, one Home (just plain Home) mid-range one, and one all-singing all-dancing Home Ultimate version (No Domain membership, but virtualisation for the power users) Allow cross-grading. I buy license for basic, I pay a bit more to get a new key that activates the additional features in the mid-range. Pay a bit more for Home Ultimate.
One Business version, using the Basic as the base, but with REQUIRED Domain membership, Active Directory, and a license management server. Pay for the software dev guys/admins/whoever needs it to get virtualisation. Manage other features, as if they were snap-ins. Also throw in free XP Pro licenses just because NewWindows might just suck royally.
Also, hot desking becomes a reality, manage what software is installed where based on Active Directory profiles, both Computer and User. Heck, why not just bring back thin clients, but with enough grunt to run Photoshop and AutoCAD Architecture or worse.
Make SKU or make three or ...
Whichever features are put into the business / consumer version, there are always going to be plenty of people who want a bit of the other, so to speak. So either have only one SKU with it all in or have a third, top-level SKU that has all the bells and whistles.
Or make all the extra features missing from a given version available for a small fee, that sounds suitably OS 2.0, doesn't it?
Either way, I want it to be based on something with decent performance.
Ignoring all the other SKU's the XP Home/ XP Pro system worked well, with the professional version being a superset of Home.
I resented Vista because Vista Business wasn't a superset of Home Premuim - to get all of it, you needed Vista Ultimate, and even then, it's only got the consumer lifecycle, insted of the extended business support options. That, and Ultimate Extras was epic fail.
My two cents is that there should be 2 versions; Windows 7 Home, and Windows 7 Professional, with the pro being the Home + More. With the modular Add/remove components, you can just remove any parts of the home SKU that businesses don't want to run.
At A Push, I suppose I could let an Open Licence Windows 7 Enterprise version go....
Home Basic is all most domestic users need!
Home Basic has all the functionality that XP has if not more. Plus it doesnt come with all those 'added features' that are mainly useless can find better for free on the web and help push up the price considerably.
I would consider myself a power user but have been using Vista Basic64 for over a year now. Not once have I felt that I'm missing something. Its a lighter install and feels slightly quicker to the Ultimate setups my friends and colleagues use. Works a treat for gaming too!
Its like the custom install option we used to get years ago, you know when you could cut out all the crap you didnt need. I just then add the apps I want to give me the functionality.
Really just dont bother with the more pricey bloated ones, you are getting ripped off.
SKU it out the window
There are just far too many. Two at most is what they should move to, on the desktop field a consumer and a business model, both with the same features, but different support packages.
As for the server field, they could trim down the crap there as well, and it would serve them well indeed in the future.
Apple also gets paid when people with Tiger buy a copy of Leopard, etc. It's not just the "get it on the machine" thing that is, actually, more common with WIndows. New OS purchase for existing machines is a substantial chunk of revenue for Apple
Since when was security an optional extra?
As usual MS have it backwards.
In a corporate environment you're behind dedicated firewalls with LAN-based antivirus services etc, and everything's centrally managed. You also generally don't need honkin' video editing features, powerful audio services, DVD burners etc - in fact you actively DONT want this stuff. My company actually has to remove or disable it all by policy. Argh.
At home however you need a decent f/w, good AV, dvd burning, a decent music player and to manage it all yourself. So the "consumer" versions should have all the bells adn whistles, the corporate ones should be cutdown.
So two SKUs please, a moronic one for corporates and a proper one for end-users, with the option to add features from the DVD later on. And remember, your competiion is OSX (£129) and Linux (£0), both of which offer this model already.
re: Better idea
"Also throw in free XP Pro licenses just because NewWindows might just suck royally."
Ha ha, I like this! You can just imagine the commercial discussion..
"Oh, but what if it ... you know, sucks?"
"How about a single SKU that is configurable on install?
The installer asks a simple question: Which option do you want? and then gives you three options: Home cofiguration, Business configuration or Custom, which lets admins and power users install the features they want.
One price, one SKU and everyone's happy."
i believe vista was actually like this, the disc has all the versions on it, all you needed was the correct key to install and activate the relevant version.
Oh and the person about the linux distro and just downloading and installing the bit you want... again... the AVERAGE end user (i.e not you) will not be able to do that and will just get confused.
Also don't get the complaints about vista versions ,we have home basic (xp home), home premium (xp media center), business (xp profession) and ultimate which has everything and more (business doesn't have the media center stuff, as its for business).
If i remember correctly the 5th version is a cripple version for release in certian countries with high level of piracy or something, and i think there was a equivilent xp version (not sure tho, would need more research.
basically all but 1 of the actual proper versions has a xp equivilent.
One SKU To Rule Them All
I don't think even the separation of business and consumer versions is a good idea. There should be just one version that allows the user to select from a limited set of combined features. For instance, they could install for a netbook, a consumer desktop, or a business desktop. After the initial install, they can add features they need that are missing from their selected initial installation.
For instance, I am a programmer, so I need the ability to remote in, and advanced networking options. At the same time, I want the ability to write to a DVD, and some of the multimedia features. Microsoft's usage models never seem to fit me, and it seems you may be stuck in the same mind-set.
I think that if they want to separate into SKU's, we could reasonably expect separate versions for 32-bit processors, and 64-bit processors, but honestly, even that is stretching it a bit. Microsoft needs to realize that people can't afford $400 for an OS (or even $200). I think Apple's got it right - $130 for an all-you-can-eat OS. It's going to be difficult enough for me to want to use Weven (Windows7), but the cost will pretty much keep me at Windows XP until .Net is no longer compatible with it, and then, I'll probably switch to Linux.
It would be very nice if there was only one version of Windows, so that I would have all the features of Windows Server for the price of Home or Basic. But Microsoft makes more money if it can charge what different markets will bear, and so the only thing that would encourage it to charge less money for Windows is... competition.
Unfortunately, OS X and Linux together aren't much of that for Windows, at least not yet.
configurable SKU, not so great for granny
One configurable SKU is a great idea for a corporate, managed environment, or where you have people who know that the computer is the box under the desk, not the moving picture box with the little blue E controlled by a rat.
For the numpties that just buy a PC and use what they get, who decides what they need? The big OEM's already throw on enough crapware as is without deciding what Windows components to include. At least with modularity, the OEM's can include the little blue E as a choice rather than as a forced bundle.
Vista Basic won't even let you change the language
I was flabbergasted when I received my new Dell in the Netherlands complete with the only OS option of Vista (I took Basic) in Dutch, and tried to change the language to English unsuccessfully. I mean, they use a translation library, right? They don't recompile afresh for each language? After I while I grumpily discovered it was a premium feature and not in basic, and went to check on my download of a Linux distribution DVD ISO using uTorrent, only to discover it had gotten nowhere and then learn that in Vista Basic, any more than 2 half open connections breaks things.. FFS.. I'm not one to wait for a 3rd strike.. The Vista partition went, and the Dell OS/Vista DVD/CD is at the bottom of a very thick pile of unimportant things in a dark moldy draw in a small corner of the basement which has been since been sealed by means of wooden planks nailed across the door and helpfully bears the sign, "Beware of the beast" and a cute little paperclip. Yes, I'm very much anti SKU for Windows, because Microsoft will *never* get a suitable combination and will always piss off its users.
Businesses want the business edition
As it forces the users to use it for business only, businesses do not want people to play with their machines and thats why it does not contain the same features, and fun stuff is crippleware even if it has to be installed afterwards.
The consumers real options were home basic, home premium and ultimate. I agree with users that it should really be fewer SKUs, probably three main versions home, business and professional. Where home and business have their own sub set of features and professional combining the both of them.
This way we get two options for consumers (home and professional) and two for business(business and professional). But the main issue is windows ultimate was wildly overpriced for the features it provided if it cost a little more or the same as the business edition people wouldn't have complained as much.
Windows 6 Sku's
Why would a consumer not possibly want remote access and protection against hardware failures? Why is this only for businesses? As a user, all options should be available. If you want to have a consumer and a business version, all options shoudl be available to be used, but each version could be tailored for that particular segment. For example, you have a consumer that have DVD software and games installed by default and terminal services off by default while the business might be the opposite. However, don't give an take on feature sets just because you don't think one segment will want that. Tha'ts where the problem is. I'm surprised the article goes into bringing it all up and then offers a solution that is the same as the problem itself.
Ignorance, pure and simple
The posters who are bitching about too many SKUs are the EXACT SAME POSTERS who also complain about "bloat".
Let's look at the Vista SKU situation.
Vista Home Basic. If you have a 286 with 1KB of video memory, this is for you, oh cheapest of the cheap. No sound card, no DVD burner, no memory, no problem! The only reason this exists was to let the OEMs sell older hardware and still get most of the benefits of Vista (ie security). No Aero glass tho. Can't get blood from a stone, right? But you get all the other Home Premium features.
Ok, ok, you need a Pentium with 512MB of memory. So I exaggerated a little. :)
Home Premium (in other words, just plain Home). For anybody not running a business--or ancient hardware--ie your typical user at home. Thus the name. Duh. How hard is this again?
Business. Again, duh. Lets you be a client on Active directory, lets you lock down with Group Policies. Not stuff a home user typically cares about, yes? So why should a home user put up with the "bloat" of stuff they'll never use? Oh, it's not bloat? My bad...
Ultimate = Home Premium+Business+a few toys like video wallpaper. Sooooo difficult! Of course this is also the version that everyone could say is "bloated" since it has all the goodies.
Oh, and finally, 32 bit vs 64 bit. So double the above SKUs. But really, how hard is it to say "if you have 4+ GB of RAM, buy 64-bit"? It's the *exact same price* after all!
I'd settle for one new feature...
Suck less. Is that too much to ask for? I don't really care about the multiple SKUs. I think it's astoundingly idiotic, but I'll be able to get whatever I want from my Uni. So should I ever feel the overwhelming desire to get a crap OS, I'll have my pick.
It allows M$ to charge more money for their OS without having to say they are jacking up the price. "You see, it costs $199 because of all the new features. You can get Home for the same price as our old OS which is pretty much like your old OS with a new theme and it uses 45% of the processor just for being Windows now."
No one wants to be stuck missing a needed feature after they have just built their system and loaded the OS, all their apps and all their data.
Ahh remember the good ole days when development shops wrote new functionality in versions at near the same price as their old version. You know, because they wanted to keep your business? M$ is just trying to leverage the fact that it's entrenched by squeezing more blood from the stone.
PS: I DO prefer Windows over Mac or Linux mainly because it's what I know and I'm a software developer. I'm still allowed to dislike their practices.
So, thats essentially 10 versions of Vista. Frankly, thats 10 too many! But hey, live and let live. One version of OS X in the shop. Thats all that is needed. SKU's is clearly something dreamt up between marketing, sales and finance. The 3 most useless an expendable parts of a business. Go figure.
Distinction Client Server?
Why the distinction between client and server? What I want is a 'workstation'. A computer I can install software one which can not only run that software locally, but also act as an occasional application server so friends can also use them, by logging into my computer. Every cheap Linux distribution does that. Even Windows did that in version 2000. All Windows Vista has is a lobotomised RDP implementation which cannot do anything more than VNC already does for free.
Am I the only one?
"During the recent second quarter, though, the wheels fell off Microsoft's plan and sales of all premium editions to PC manufacturers fell 11 points to 64 per cent, as sales of the PCs capable of running them crashed."
I read that as "the PC's running them crashed."
Wouldn't happen with Linux
Add up all the different distros and I'm sure you'll get a number far in excess of the number of Windows SKUs...
Of course, for those who understand differences, there's complete freedom to change from one to another and tailor things to requirements.
re: I Don't Care About SKUs
Aye, just tried to look to how to remove Movie Maker. I won't be making movies and so I don't need or want it there. But the only answers available were
a) "I don't understand why someone would want to get rid of it"
b) A link to how to install it
Answer to (a) is "It's MY FUCKING MACHINE!!!!". If I want to remove it, I want to remove it. If you want to tell me to fuck off then YOU buy the fucking thing from me and YOU update it with YOUR work and cash.
However, all these SKU's STILL make Vista need 2GB of memory and 8-10GB of disk.
WHERE'S THE FRIGGING LOSS OF WEIGHT??????
Multiple SKUs are a bad idea for Microsoft
if they were only to recognise it. People buy computers to run software. Developers write software to make use of the opperating system. If a top-end SKU has a feature that they'd like to use, they would limit their market by using it. Result: code is written for the lowest common denominator (and will maybe give you bonus features if the OS SKU supports it). Provide just one SKU and developers will code to make use of all it's features, which will make the OS more attractive to PC buyers.
re:configurable SKU, not so great for granny
Uh, since when did granny buy a bare-bones PC and a separate full retail copy of the OS?
Since when did retailers start giving people the OS on a disk again, rather than just an image on the HDD (thereby ensuring that if the disk dies, your PC dies too and you can't sell on either).
When did that happen?
And if YOUR granny does do that, she won't care too much about clicking a few options off, will she.
"Microsoft should differentiate with, say, the ability to burn DVDs and create high-definition movies for the consumer version while businesses get remote access and back up and protection against hardware failure."
I agree with you Simon. Put the options in there and let the OEMs install the features they think their market will want and let the enterprises install the options they want.
ONE SKU FOR ALL.
If you want to purchase an enterprise license and install on 10k machines...fine. If you want to
purchase a single user license and install on a single machine (whether through OEM or on your own), you should get a single license and INSTALL DISK. NOT some frikkin' "restore disc" crap.
MS should REQUIRE that OEM supply an install disc to each user computer NOT an enterprise license.
MS should only have a single install disc for any upgrade or raw install; with the ability of the user to pick up additional features off the disc at any time afterward. it really only needs to be smart enough to rank your memory, processor, disc space and whether you can upgrade from your win3.11....... Oh, and please drop the DRM....and continue selling XP :-)
FAO the Reg
Please stop putting that demented cunts photo up where people can see it without any warning.
Doesn't matter how many. If you find you've got the "wrong" version, just get another.
BSA will sue your ass into the ground if you try that with Vista/7.
RE: Dutch dell
>I was flabbergasted when I received my new Dell in the
>Netherlands complete with the only OS option of Vista
>(I took Basic) in Dutch, and tried to change the language
>to English unsuccessfully. I mean, they use a translation
>library, right? They don't recompile afresh for each language?
Considering the Dell website clearly states the language of Windows you're buying, and usually offers the option of English or Dutch, I can understand why you're posting as AC.
From what I understand it's an hard translation, they have different binaries for each language..
Of course we run the English version, as it's kinda annoying googling windows error messages in anything other than English......
"However, all these SKU's STILL make Vista need 2GB of memory and 8-10GB of disk.
WHERE'S THE FRIGGING LOSS OF WEIGHT??????"
First, I've got a dozen Vista Business machines at work right now, 10 of them are 1GB machines, 2 with 2GB and all of them running Pentium dual core and Intel onboard graphics. All are speedy, it's just the 2GB machines stay speedy with a *lot* more open.
So no, Vista doesn't require 2GB. As for 8-10GB of disk space, each of these sub $500 machines has a 160GB hard drive. Why am I caring about 10GB for the OS again?
The loss of weight is in complexity, not code. Every Vista user, from Basic to Ultimate has *exactly* the same code! All you have to do to upgrade is pay MS the difference, and type in the code they give you. Instant upgrade.
Why do you care if the OS is taking up maybe 6-7% of the hard drive? You don't want to use the business features, you don't have to. You don't want to use the home theatre features, you don't have to.
In fact you can make sure nobody else can either...
Of course if your system is so old all you have is a 20GB hard drive, well, you better address your Penguin as "good puppy", hadn't you? :)
I'm impressed with the Windows 7 Beta so far.
If they release 1 sku it will be the icing on the cake.
I have lost count of the number of times I have been asked to install a server for a small business, and found they are all running XP home (no domain option).
Make it small, fast, secure and affordable....and MS will be on to a winner