Making Your Move to Vista: What You Need to Know
Versions and prices
In the United States, Vista will be offered in five basic editions -- two aimed at businesses and three at home users. Not sure which one to choose? You're not alone. Please see the Comparison of Selected Features in Windows Vista Versions chart at the bottom of the page, which gives detail about the differences among Vista versions. Here's a quick summary of the versions along with pricing information:
• Windows Vista Business ($299 new; $199 upgrade) supports the Aero interface and includes several features aimed at IT manageability, including Fax and Scan, wireless network provisioning, system-image-based backup and recovery, and Group Policy support. In keeping with its business focus, this version lacks many digital media features.
• Windows Vista Enterprise (available only to volume licensees, pricing not released) adds advanced management features such as BitLocker drive encryption; a subsystem for Unix-based applications; and Virtual PC Express, which lets you run legacy apps on a legacy Windows operating system inside a virtual environment on Vista. Like Windows Vista Business, this version does not include Media Center or DVD-burning functions.
For home users:
• Windows Vista Home Basic ($199 new; $99.95 upgrade) offers parental controls and not much else. This version does not support the Aero interface, and it lacks many digital media capabilities.
• Windows Vista Home Premium ($239 new; $159 upgrade) adds digital media features such as Media Center and Windows DVD Maker, as well as Tablet PC functionality and scheduled user data backup.
• Windows Vista Ultimate ($399 new; $259 upgrade) combines all the multimedia features of the home editions with the advanced file- and network-management features of the business versions. This version has it all -- and it'll cost you.
Our recommendations? Nobody should opt for Vista Home Basic. That's especially the case if you're buying a new PC. If you can afford a better PC, get a better PC -- one that supports Vista Home Premium. Even in an upgrade situation, you might want to move your retail version to better hardware someday. Spend a bit more for Vista Home Premium. That will deliver the ability to run the Aero interface, support for Media Center and DVD-burning capabilities. If your hardware doesn't support Aero, Vista degrades to the Vista Basic interface automatically. On a desktop PC, you may be able to get Aero by updating your video card.
IT organizations will make the decision about the business version that's best for their users, and we suspect the choice will have more to do with their license agreement than the minor differences in the feature set. Any enterprise that needs BitLocker or the Virtual PC legacy app utility on employee machines will need Vista Enterprise.
What if your computer is the primary computer you use 24/7? You use it for work, you use it for entertainment, it's your weekend shopping tool, your DVD player and the machine you give business presentations with? Well, first, we'd like to congratulate you. Because you've eliminated one of the biggest frustrations of computing: Where's that file? Oh, yeah, that was on the other computer. All your data is in one place, the way it should be.
Microsoft has a version of Windows for you. It's called Windows Vista Ultimate Edition. You'll notice it's not cheap. But it does everything you want, and then some.
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