Microsoft Confirms Six Windows Vista Versions Planned

As reported by CRN in mid-January, Microsoft is slated to ship six editions of the Windows client upgrade: Windows Vista Business, Windows Vista Enterprise, Windows Vista Home Basic, Windows Vista Home Premium, Windows Vista Ultimate and Windows Vista Starter.

Windows Vista Business will feature a redesigned user interface, formerly code-named Aero, as well as new search and organization capabilities and support for the Windows Table PC technology built in. Windows Enterprise, the second business edition, includes all of those features plus new functionality, such as Windows BitLocker Drive encryption, Virtual PC Express virtualization and a Unix subsystem for running legacy applications.

On the consumer side, Microsoft plans an entry-level Windows Home Basic version with a new Search Explorer, a Sidebar feature and parental control capabilities. A higher-end premium home edition will feature the Aero interface along with Windows Media Center capabilities, Windows Tablet PC functionallity, and integrated DVD burning and authoring .

Windows Vista Ultimate, the full-featured version, melds all business and consumer features in a single stock-keeping unit.

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All Vista versions offer 32-bit and 64-bit computing, except for the starter edition, which is aimed at emerging markets and provides 32-bit support only. All six editions of Vista are scheduled to ship in the second half of 2006, Microsoft said.

Last week, Microsoft kicked off the beta 2 testing cycle for the now feature-complete Windows Vista code with the release of the first Enterprise Community Technology Preview (CTP). The Redmond, Wash., software giant plans to release the beta 2 code with enhanced performance and fixes to a broader set of consumers in the second quarter in what’s referred to as the consumer CTP.