Windows Vista / Getting Started

The Five Flavors of Vista

Windows XP came in two easy-to-understand versions: One for home, and one for business. Microsoft confuses things in Vista by splitting it into five different versions, each with a different price tag.

Luckily, only three versions are aimed at consumers, and most people will probably choose Windows Vista Home Premium. Still, to clear up the confusion.

The Five Flavors of Windows Vista
Windows Vista Home Basic
Reminiscent of Windows XP Home Edition, this version leaves out Vista's fancier media features, such as DVD burning, HDTV, TV recording, and other similar features.

Windows Vista Home Premium
This version is Windows Vista Home Basic, but with the media features tossed back in. It targets people who watch TV on their PC or who want to create DVDs from their camcorder footage.

Windows Vista Business
Just as with its brethren, Windows XP Professional, this aims at the business market. It includes a fax program, for example, but lacks the media-related features found in Vista Home Premium.

Windows Vista Enterprise
This business market version contains even more tools, such as support for additional languages and larger networks.

Windows Vista Ultimate
A combination of the Home and Business versions, this version aims at the wallets of hard-core PC users, such as gamers, people in the video industry, and similar people who spend their lives in front of their keyboards.

Although five versions may seem complicated, choosing the one you need is not that difficult. And because Microsoft stuffed all the versions on your Vista DVD, you can upgrade at any time simply by whipping out the credit card and unlocking the features in a different version. Here are some guidelines for choosing the version you need:

  • If your PC can't display or record TV shows, and you don't want to make DVDs from your camcorder footage, then save a few bucks by sticking with Windows Vista Home. It is fine for word processing, e-mail, and the Internet.
  • If you want to burn DVDs and/or record TV shows on your PC, then pony up the cash for Windows Vista Premium.
  • People who run Web servers on their PCs - and you will know if you are doing it - will want Windows Vista Business.
  • Dedicated gamers and computer industry professionals will want Windows Vista Ultimate because it includes everything found in the other versions.
  • Computer techies who work for businesses will argue with their bosses over whether they need Windows Business or Windows Enterprise versions. They will make their decision based on whether they are a small company (Windows Business) or a large company (Windows Enterprise).

That inexpensive Vista Starter version you may have heard about is not sold in the United States. It is sold at reduced prices in developing nations like Malaysia. (It is not really a goodwill gesture as much as it is an attempt to reduce software piracy.)

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