back to article Microsoft SKUs Windows 7 clarity

Microsoft has announced how it will package Windows Vista's successor, Windows 7. And as ever, Microsoft has put segmentation ahead of clarity. The one bright spot in Microsoft's Windows 7 news is that - contrary to some reports - it won't add a brand new edition solely for netbooks. Although even this is not that straight …


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John O'Hare

Successor vs Service Pack

"Microsoft has announced how it will package Windows Vista's successor, Windows 7."

Microsoft has announced how it will package Windows Vista's service pack, Windows 7.

There fixed that for you. Really wonder how there are still people out there who (some of those a second time) happily fork over their hard earned cash to MS for something that should have been a service pack.

Hey, whether it's a service pack is debatable; shame there's generally two opinions on whether it's a service pack or a completely new release and those opinions are directly linked to the person working for MS or not (mind that the key word here is 'generally').

For the amount of different versions; it still appears that MS haven't been beaten with a cluestick yet, even adding an extra version for netbooks.

Happy to be using Ubuntu, which is the same version for all types of workstations and isn't crippled when I don't fork over enough dosh.

Radim Horak
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Holy Sh!t

WHY>>> WHY>>> WHY cannot Micro$oft come up with something that would be easy... let's say 3 versions...just like XP.. Home version with all that media center stuff and bells and whistles for home users. Pro version that would include bitlocker / domain connectivity and all Home stuff for power users and corporate version without any extra multimedia stuff..

oh.. but that would be too easy.. i guess

Doug Glass

Decisions, Decisions

This is getting so hard what with six choices of what not to buy.


Amazing marketing

The marketing gibberish spouters are obviously still in charge at what should be a software company.

Just two versions, Home and Professional--what's so hard about that? Do they really believe they get a larger income stream from having an Ultimate version? It's more likely they cause more resentment than income.

Ah well, some lessons are still not learned from Vista.


Still being stupid

It takes a lot more work to build six versions than one or two. Starting with the full thing, you'd have constantly test to make sure nothing breaks as you strip out features and add crippleware (e.g. that the 'only 3 programs at a time' restriction doesn't count system processes). Costs more, takes longer to develop. At least in theory. You could skimp on the testing and assume that as long as there are no obvious bugs it's working fine.

They need to go back to the XP model with two versions: Pro and Basic. Pro has everything, of course. Basic leaves out particularly resource-heavy features and anything a typical tech-literate user* won't need. Make them API-compatible, so developers won't have to worry about their programs running on Pro but not on Basic.

*Meaning capable of setting up home network, keeps A/V scanner up-to-date, might work from home with a VPN, etc.

Herby Silver badge

Actually another SKU is needed

It is called "Windows XP". (service pak 4)



Just use Slackware instead.

Patrick Ernst
Jobs Horns


The implied bigotry in MS's definition of "developed" is interesting. Maybe the execs don't get out much? In the "undeveloped" countries I've been in most people are running current kit. In fact, most of the young kids had more recent kit than I was running. Maybe they meant people outside those 'developed" countries are too unsophisticated to handle the real windows! Poor undeveloped bastards - one can only hope they get sophisticated real soon so MS can sell them the grown up stuff.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Perfectly clear

Translated versioning

1. Broken, for netbooks.

2. Crippled Limited Edition

3. Home Bloat

4. Pro, Parental controls now called User Mangler.

5. It ain't Server but, ooh is that minesweeper?

6. Recommended hardware, Cray XT4.

Smokey Joe


I'll stick with Ubuntu then.

Thank you Vista. I haven't looked back!



There should be only one version like NT & Windows 2000.

I support many small businesses and they usually buy their computers from retailers who sell only XP/Vista Home & Premium.

This just creates a mess for everyone.

The reason I suspect BitLocker is restricted from all versions is because they think users (without an IT dept.) will end up locking themselves out.

Please MS there needs to be only one version.

Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

Windows versioning

... It's recondite, but at least it's expensive.

David Kairns

More SERVICE PACK 7 Versions Needed...

Fully user screwing

3/4 user screwing

1/2 user screwing

1/4 user screwing

Oh yeah, couple more:

Fully vague

Semi vague

Micro vague

There, that's better.

Man, what a donkey farm up there in Redmond


David Kairns

TKU MS for a great idea!!!

I'm going to acquire six refrigerators, all different.

Then six different flush handles for my toilet (somehow incredibly appropriate in a discussion regarding the Redmond monkey farm).

Once the handle use is well drilled, I'll get six toilets, each one urgently required directly after using another different MS product.

Then six transmissions -- all varying gear ratios -- brilliant.

Six coat hanger types.

Six toilet paper densities (again, so appropriate).

Six wives (looking better here, despite MS crap).

Six nose hair trimmers, varying amperages and motors, some doubling as hedge trimmers, powered hole diggers.

Life's good.

Brett Brennan

Why not one base package...

...and sell "upgrade" packages to add the features needed for the other functions? That way EVERYBODY gets the Home Basic/Starter edition, and OEMs and other folks can add away to their heart's (and wallet's) content.

Oh, wait. That's too much like a Linux "distro". Wouldn't want THAT to blemish Window's clear, easy to follow functionality ladder. Like Vista Home: you're offered the opportunity to "upgrade" your "experience" via the internet - IF your ISP doesn't cut off the 5GB download half-way through...

Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

Adam White

Home Basic

Offering a limited cut down version of Windows in Asia, Central/South America, Central/Eastern Europe and Africa is going to discourage piracy and the take-up of Linux?

Moss Icely Spaceport
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Looks like it's...

..Marketing Twonks: 6 ~ Common sense: 0

P. Lee Silver badge

Three versions

Windows basic

Media edition (OSX)

Ultimate (Linux)

I know, I'm leaving alread...

Rock Lobster
Gates Halo

Re: Successor vs Service Pack

@ John O'Hare

Well, first of all, you could call every new Ubuntu or Fedora a "service pack", since it always uses the older version as a basis. But here, nobody has a problem with calling it a successor.

And even if Windows 7 is really only a "service pack", then it is still understandable that MS won't call it that way, because Vista's reputation is already as low as it can get. No wonder that they'll use a new name for it.

Maybe people want to call it a service pack because of its shorter development time. But if they'd need another 5 years to develop it, only to justify it being a really new release, people would be unsatified as well.

Gates Horns


Has everyone forgotten about the DRM "broadcast flag" that cripples video files recorded through Windows Media Center? No one has even mentioned this in the new version of Windows.

I had Vista preinstalled on 5 of my new computers and I promptly reformatted everything and installed XP instead. Then after Vista SP1 I gave it a spin, and everything seemed to be running smoothly and stable.

I actually started to enjoy using Vista until I started recording TV shows on Media Center, and then discovered I can't even watch them on another computer in the bedroom. It was then I really truly HATED Vista!

I mean, the largest computer software maker on the planet is suddenly deciding that my computer is a television VCR and automatically assumes that I'm going to burn TV shows and movies on to DVD and start selling them to black markets in China? F*CKING NOT! Maybe I just want to watch it on another computer, or maybe I want to save it for another time after, but none of that matters because even if I reformat everything, I can't watch everything that I recorded.

Vista SUCKS in these terms. But has anyone found out if this DRM bullshit is on Windows 7? Why doesn't microsoft just put a disclaimer when playing the video back for the first time saying "Windows 7 is computer software, and not a TV or VCR. Keep in mind that this program has a Broadcast Flag with limitations on how you may view/use this recording. Do you wish to honour the legal limitations, or do you wish to continue knowing that you are violating the broadcast flag limitations? YES OR NO" and then just strip the DRM crap from it if you say "no", but GIVE consumers the choice about what they wish to do with something that they obtained legally.



full function experiencce?

"In the consumer space, customers outside of developing technology markets will get Premium edition, which Microsoft described as a "full function PC experience and visually rich environment.""

I get that with Ubuntu and KDE

oh sorry, I'm not getting "Full Function", I don't have to suffer the wonders of DRM'd WIndows only media... but I wouldn't want that crap anyway...

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Microsoft doing what they do best

Apple users will pay money to avoid having to make a decision - hence one version.

Linux users get to pick whatever they want, and can expect it to run for ever without having to buy upgrades. They are peeved because retailers insist they buy a throw-away Microsoft license.

Microsoft users have to decide how locked in they are, and pick the version that runs their legacy software (eg Window 7 Super-pricey with bundled XP).

Microsoft own the copyright to their operating system. They get to distribute it in as many flavours as they choose. If this annoys you, you can accept it or switch to something else. Moaning is not going to help you (although I am sure MS will offer a $50/minute phone line so you can moan at them and they can ignore you and do exactly the same thing with Windows 8).

(PS dyslexia: skus -> suks & read the url :-)

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
IT Angle

Maybe by self-competition

they want to avoid being seen as a monopoly?

Or they want to have as many versions of W-7 as there are linux distros? In this way, windows users can experience the same futile arguments as so often heard between openSUSE, Fedora, Debian, Ubuntu and other fanboys

(I have debian at work and openSUSE at home so I can take two sides in those debates ;-) )

Jim Macdonald


Far too confusing...

Actually it isn't, I'll just be sticking with XP thanks.

Chris Beach

Still No Family Pack?

So the advanced home users are screwed over again, and family's are still expected to pay stupid amounts to upgrade all their pc's, which they wont do and just download a pirated copy.

Any news on if we'll get screwed over on the 32/64 bit issue again? Or will they at least make sure each of these sku's just has the one combined disk?


@ El Reg = Fail

Article is wrong. There is no Home Basic.

There's Starter that's sold only in emerging markets. We won't see this.

Home Premium, Professional and Ultimate are the retail SKU's.

That's three.

Home, Pro and Ultimate. All have media center. Home is the lowest, followed by Pro (which has home stuff plus domain join, RDP etc.) Ultimate has BitLocker to go and some Enterprise features in it as well as the Pro feature set.

Three retail SKU's is pretty good and from that it's clear MS are listening to feedback.

Enterprise is only volume licencing. Not OEM, not retail. Starter is OEM only in a handful of "emerging" markets only.

So in PC World or from Dell you'll have three options only.

But your complaining again? WTF?



sorry, there *were* two versions of win2000 (that i saw) - Home and Professional.

nobody bought "Home", because win98 worked a tad better for people not on a Domain (it could play the odd game or two).

So there you go - they started selling useless editions of the O/S 8 or 9 years ago. Why should they stop now?


All I care about is... many floppies will it come on? Will I need a pallet loader?

Adam Harris
Gates Horns


I take it there will be an additional 6 versions in Europe without IE8?

Or is it still cheaper for them to pay a daily fine?

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

How hard is it?

Maybe it's because I played a lot of Pokemon while I was growing up, but I don't have any trouble remembering the different SKU's, or what they're for.

Christian Berger Silver badge


From a Netbook OS I expect it to run GUI applications like Browsers

I expect a real OS to have networking capability. So I can, for example, log into it remotely without disturbing the person currently working on the machine directly.

So... what will Windows 7 will be? A boot-loader for Browsers, or a real OS?

Gates Halo

Developing markets don't want crippled software.

How do Microsoft sell to their share holders this idea that "developing markets" want a crippled edition of Windows WHICH THEY HAVE TO PAY FOR over a pirated version of their flaghship OS?

I wouldn't buy it, and i'm a civilised Westerner.

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I knew there had to be a catch.

The beta actually seems to work well, so they needed to do something stupid.

I think 3 versions. Basic (Just OS and essential tools, no crippling of no. of apps running)

Home (+ mulimedia, browser etc all chosen at install)

Professional (everything but all optional)

Steven Raith
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Feature lockout - why?

Why is this lockout even required? I can understand things like bitlocker and Aero Glass not being on by default for less grunty systems, but who knows any home user with, say, XP Pro, who has been trying to twiddle with Domain setup etc?

Utterly, utterly pointless segregation clearly only there to up the margin on the top versions, and yet again small businesses who buy from domestic retailers will be screwed over when they buy five machines from PC World, install Windows Small Business Server on one of them, and realise that they need to spend another £1000 just to connect to a domain because Windows Home Edition won't let you even contemplate talking to one.

Money grabbing, arrogant bastards MS are, but I guess those of us in the support world are going to have to deal with this [and charge, natch, so shouldn't complain...] for another five years. Like we have the last five with XP.

Steven 'Yes, I know you only bought the machine three months ago, but you need to spend another £100 on a proper Windows license for this to work' R


Surely One would be better?

Why MS can't provide ONE version of their OS'es, with all the bells and whistles as optional components, I'll never know.

Providing six or seven versions of a product really only serves to confuse their customers. The poor sods are then effectively coerced into buying the most expensive version of a product just to ensure they get what they need.


Vista Service Pack 7

I quite like the Windows 7 beta so far - it runs really well on my old laptop (compared, even, to my beloved XP). Can't wait to see how they fuck it up :)

Paul Docherty
Paris Hilton

XP Versions


Can anyone actually remember how many versions of XP were released? Here's a reminder:




Tablet PC Edition

Media Center Edition

Volume License



Professional 64-bit

How many of you had trouble picking one of them?

Calm the hysteria - we only need to think about the editions that will actually be available to the average user. This leaves Premium and Professional. Ultimate is a stupidity tax, Starter/Basic versions will be on 3rd world PCs and netbooks (same difference), leaving Enterprise for those that *really* need it. Seriously, this will not impact us in any way, shape or form.

Paris, 'cause even she can figure this out.

Eric Van Haesendonck
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This sucks!

They need only 3 versions:

- Netbook for hardware-limited budget devices (because promoting an OS that has a 16 GB diskspace requirement for SSD based devices is complete nonsense).

- Home (with mediacenter).

- Professional (with enterrpise management tools)

And these should be the only differences between versions. Anything else will just confuse customers. Any limited version will only make windows look bad compared to Ubuntu and OSX.

Paris Hilton

Starter Edition...

...why do i feel as though they should be calling it "Fisher Price Edition?".

Surly it would be simple enough that during installation you could detect a netbook and just install appropriate drivers for it?

I would debate the need for even having two editions. The group policy stuff should be there by default, if you don't know what it for then you won't use it. Which is as good as not paying for a service you don't use.

Sell bitlocker as an add-on if you must.

Paris, coz she isn't this confusing.


Anonymous Coward

"a very small set of customers who want what everything that Windows 7 has to offer"

Since most MS customers would much rather have a limited feature set (for their extra $$), using more hardware than ever, loaded with crippleware and slower than the last version.


Damned if the do and if they don't

When MS offered one version of their OS with everything built in for everyone, people took them to court. Presumably that cost more than supporting six versions. Be careful what you wish for

Dave Bell

Who needs Windows?

Buy the game machine of your choice, and who needs Windows?

Maybe the corporates with bespoke software, but I still see lots of stuff with DOS-style box-drawing (and I suspect a Borland compiler somewhere in the history). WINE runs on my Netbook, so a corporate IT department ought to be able to sort it out.

And this Asus Eee I have seems to appeal to people who see it, even with the ill-supported Xandros Linux.

There's no reason Windows can't be as esoteric as the Apple Mac, lurking in specialised roles of the sort which kept Apple alive.

Well, I can dream.

Joe K
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Oh yeah, i'm sure that'll really steer the indians and chinese away from pirate copies of XP and Linux.

Jesus fuckin christ, that company is going DOWN.


Will they ever learn?

Just when you think that Vista has been such a failure that any sane MS employee must have woken up and smelt the coffee, they go and prove us wrong. Wasn't Vista supposed to be the last monolithic OS, with subsequent releases being 'modular'? Surely a modular approach would leave a single edition, with optional installable components to suit? Why the hell would anyone bother with this sh*t?

The cost of a Mac gets more a more justifiable each day.

Ewen Bruce

Futile marketing gibberish

Look MS, its an OPERATING SYSTEM!! It something I only care about to the extent that it provides the platform for the things I want to use. I know you'd really like me to get excited about it, but I just don't give a monkeys. I want one, simple, secure OS that runs my applications; why is that such a hard concept to grasp?

Mick Gower

Well we now know why it's called Windows 7

You now have seven choices:

Starter Edition, Home Basic, Premium, Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate.

And Fedora


tomany versions hum

it seems microsoft hasnt gotten the message about how many versions of windows they make whats it gonna take an atom bomb heh. seriously microsoft stop making to many damn versions its most annoying its just to get more money out of us poor people struggling as it is without you making loads of confusion and fuss.

Ken Hagan Gold badge

Any SKU for netbooks...

...absolutely needs all the network connectivity it can get. The whole point of these machines is that they give you a portable form of access to heavier resources elsewhere. A netbook that can't connect to your domain is a doorstop.

Face it, the only version of Win7 worth running is the Ultimate Pan-Galactic Edition. Everything else is missing what people have come to expect in one way or another, whether it be networking, security or media. (And even UPGE is missing the "DRM-free" feature that Microsoft's competitors are offering.)

There are just two reasons for the other SKUs. Firstly, by creating the appearance of a product line, Microsoft go some way to justifying the justify the price of the premium offering. Secondly, there are probably a few customers out there who can be suckered into buying it.

Tom Silver badge

three apps at once??

windows update, the IE8 that called it and a trojan,

Thats not an operating system - thats a boot system.

As in a boot you put on a car when you want to stop it going anywhere!

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Which version?

Which version do I need for my netbook at work then?

Windows 7 Work Starter Premium?

sorry, forgetting we are in the EU

Windows 7 Work Starter Premium No-WMP?


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