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Windows 7: Vista with Prettier Drapes?

By Jennifer Hooker, IEN Staff

February 6, 2009—Microsoft recently announced the six upcoming flavors of Windows 7, and though it’s got a ways to go before it can compete with Baskin Robbins, the word on the street is that Windows 7 leaves users with a Vista aftertaste.

Hey Bill, think you got enough?

Microsoft announced that Windows 7 will be available in six different versions, including:

  • Windows 7 Starter: this version isn’t designed to be purchased, but integrated into small notebooks by OEMs. It seems to be a pared down version of the operating system and lacks multimedia features.
  • Windows 7 Home Basic: this version is geared for emerging overseas markets in Latin America, Asia, and Africa.
  • Windows 7 Home Premium: Microsoft is positioning this as the version for the average home user and it will be one of two available versions stocked on store shelves.
  • Windows 7 Professional: this will be the second version offered in stores and is geared for small business owners.
  • Windows 7 Enterprise: Designed for medium to large business and corporations; therefore, it will only be available through volume licensing.
  • Windows 7 Ultimate: as its name suggests, it’s the end-all version of the OS packing in all the features of all the other versions.

PC Magazine reports that six might not be the final number as Microsoft is obligated to under a 2004 EU ruling to produce an “N” version for the European Union without Windows Media Player.

Will they never learn?

Back in January 2007, Microsoft pulled a similar move with the launch of Vista. The much loathed operating system was released in four varieties (Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, and Ultimate), which confused consumers who didn’t realize that each version was very different. Home Basic and Home Premium looked entirely different on the screen as the basic version lacked the updated user interface.

According to the Associated Press, the Redmond software giant even faced a class action lawsuit because certain PCs claimed to be ready for Vista, but could only run the plain Home Basic and weren’t powerful enough to support Home Premium or Ultimate.

In an effort to avoid some of the confusion, headaches, and lawsuits, only two version of Windows 7 will actually be found in stores: Home Premium and Professional. Ultimate will be available through an online or offline upgrade process for an additional, undisclosed cost of course.

Moving to Windows 7 From XP

Our advice for switching to Windows 7 is simple…keep the aspirin bottle (or other bottles for that matter) handy. In order to upgrade to 7, users will first have to purchase a Window 7 disc and install it. After that, users can upgrade to another version by using “Windows Anytime Upgrade” (WAU), which requires users to buy a key either online or at a brick-and-mortar store.

If you’re an XP user that’s holding out for 7, be prepared for a painful upgrade. XPers can bypass Vista, but will be forced to do a “clean installation” of 7, meaning you’ll have to backup all your data, install Windows 7, reinstall all your programs (including Microsoft Office), and then add all your data. We weren’t kidding about the aspirin…

Another headache XPers might want to consider is that “mainstream support” for XP will be a thing of the past come April 14, and will shift to “extended support.” According to tech site, Computerworld, this essentially means that free security updates and fixes will still be available, but non-security hot fixes (a.k.a. function-based fixes) will only be provided to companies that have support contracts with Microsoft. Computerworld also noted that companies need to purchase extended support contracts within 90 days of XP’s retirement in April to get hot fixes. So in other words, if you don’t already have a contract, you’re outta luck.

Migrating from Vista to 7

This move should be a bit easier as Vista users will not be required to perform a “clean installation” of 7 and all data and programs should be unharmed. However, Microsoft is still recommending that you backup your data, which means Vista users may also have to keep the aspirin bottle close by…then again, we’re pretty sure they already do.

We’re also not sure if making the switch to 7 will bring back old Vista issues that some users might have resolved since upgrading from XP. After all, Vista and 7 are both based on the same platform.

Windows 7 Under Attack

The new OS is currently available in a beta version, with an official release rumored for late 2009/early 2010. However, British tech site, The Register, is reporting that Windows 7 is leaving itself wide open for security threats.

One of the biggest complaints with Vista was the user access control (UAC), also known as the annoying pop-up that asked “are you sure you want to…” Microsoft assured users that the UAC wouldn’t be as ubiquitous, but it seems the company went to the other extreme. Researchers uncovered that it is possible to bypass the UAC all together and easily install viruses on the latest version of Windows.

All things considered, it might be time to head to your nearest Apple store…


Add a Comment



  • Ralph on Feb 9 2009 4:03:57:000PM

    If "too many versions" is the complaint, then no, Linux isn't the way to go.

  • Gordon on Feb 9 2009 2:57:06:000PM

    It's time to head to the Linux store. Canonical offers commercial support for enterprises using Ubuntu. The OS is free. Linux is good enough that the old Microsoft/Apple duopoly is busted.

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