Exclusive: Vista Product Editions Still Not Finalized

Five months after I revealed the Windows Vista product editions, Microsoft appeared to corroborate my report last weekend officially revealing which Vista versions customers will be able to purchase later this year. The corroboration came in the form of a Web page that described each product edition. However, just 1 day after being posted, the Web page was taken down Now Microsoft says that it hasn't yet finalized Vista branding.

"Microsoft recently posted a Web page designed to test the Windows Vista Help system that included incomplete information about the Windows Vista product lineup," a Microsoft spokesperson told me. "This page has since been removed as it was posted prematurely and was for testing purposes only We will share more information about the Windows Vista lineup in the coming weeks."

On the now missing page, Microsoft's final branding varied only slightly from my initial report. One product version Starter Edition was renamed and one version, Vista Small Business, didn't appear on Microsoft's short lived Web site. But according to the comments I've gotten from Microsoft perhaps the Small Business version of Vista is indeed making a comeback.

Here are the product editions Microsoft plans to ship for Vista according to the most recent information I have:

Windows Starter 2007. Previously Windows Vista Starter Edition. This version doesn't use the Vista branding because it won't include the Windows Aero graphics display found in the Vista product line and will be available only in a 32-bit version.

Windows Vista Home Basic and Home Basic N. This is a simple version of Vista that's aimed at single PC homes. Vista Home Basic is the baseline version of Vista which all other product editions will build from Home Basic N is aimed at the European Union (EU) and will lack Windows Media Player.

Windows Vista Home Premium. This version is aimed at whole home entertainment and personal productivity throughout the home and on the go. As a superset of Vista Home Basic, Vista Home Premium Edition will include everything from Vista Home Basic to Media Center and Media Center Extender functionality including Cable Card support.

Windows Vista Business and Business N. Previously Windows Vista Professional Edition, Windows Vista Business is roughly analogous to Windows XP Professional Edition today. This version is aimed at business decision makers and IT managers and generalists. Business N is aimed at the EU and will lack Windows Media Player.

Windows Vista Enterprise. Optimized for the enterprise this version will be a true superset of Vista Business. It will also include unique features such as Virtual PC, the Multilingual User Interface MUI and the Secure Startup Full Volume Encryption security technologies Cornerstone. There is no analogous XP version for this product.

Windows Vista Ultimate. The best OS ever offered for a personal PC optimized for the individual. Vista Ultimate Edition is a superset of both Vista Home Premium and Vista Business, so it includes all the features of both those product versions as well as additional features.

As I noted in my September 2005 write up, all of the Vista product names were placeholders and could change before the final product release. This week it's clear what some of those changes are. For more information please refer to my Windows Vista Product Editions Preview on the SuperSite for Windows. I'll be revising this document to match the known changes soon.