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Microsoft eyes six versions of Windows Vista

Information about the operating system was posted by the company over the weekend, then yanked from the Web

By Matthew Broersma
February 20, 2006 12:00 PM ET - Over the weekend, Microsoft posted information about the six editions of Windows Vista is plans to offer -- only to remove the information from its Web site a day later, saying it has yet to make a final decision.

Information posted on Microsoft's Web site revealed that the company is planning six basic editions of Vista, plus two more "N" versions, which don't bundle Windows Media Player -- a decision that would keep it in compliance with European Union antitrust sanctions.

Two of the editions correspond roughly to Windows XP Home Edition and XP Pro, with an extra Home edition bundling Media Center features, two more enterprise-oriented editions with extra features, and a stripped-down version without Vista's graphics or 64-bit capabilities.

Today Microsoft said the information was incomplete and had been posted "prematurely" for "testing purposes."

According to the removed information, Windows Starter 2007 is the most basic version, doesn't use the Vista branding because it doesn't include Vista's Aero graphics system and will ship only in a 32-bit version. This may correspond to the currently offered Windows XP Starter Edition, which sells more cheaply than other versions of XP, and is aimed at developing countries.

Windows Vista Home Basic is aimed at single-PC homes and is the most basic version of Vista. Home Basic N is the same, but without Media Player. Vista Home Premium adds Media Center and Media Center Extender functionality, including support for Cable Card.

Windows Vista Business is the most basic professional edition, with Business N removing Media Player. Vista Enterprise adds features such as Virtual PC, multilanguage user interface and "Cornerstone" technologies -- Secure Startup and full-volume encryption. Vista Ultimate adds still more as yet undisclosed features.

Microsoft has previously said it would create an Enterprise edition specifically for subscribers to its unpopular Software Assurance licensing plan. The company has also previously said it would roll Media Center features into other editions.

Industry watchers have also expected the company to offer a version aimed at small businesses, something omitted from the briefly published lineup.

Vista is due to ship by the end of the year.

Reprinted with permission from Copyright 2012 IDG, all rights reserved.
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