Visual Tour: 20 Reasons Why Windows Vista Will Be Your Next OS

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Ultimate Edition

I've been critical in the past of what I expect to be a high price for Windows Vista Ultimate, but that doesn't change the fact that I love the idea of one Vista SKU that contains all the enterprise and consumer Vista features. If you're going to have a big GUI operating system with millions and millions of lines of code, you might as well go all the way and get all the features and functionality you can. I am currently living that way, with one notebook PC for my business and personal life -- and if you can grab just that, it makes life a lot easier. I tote my notebook to and from work every day, but the upside is that there's only one computer in my life that's mission-critical, that I must ensure data backups from, that I need to handle all my e-mail, where I've saved some document I have to find, where I've saved some bookmark I want to check and so on. It's my computer of record. Windows Vista Ultimate makes working that way more possible for more people.

In particular, Vista Ultimate is aimed at self-employed professionals or small-business owners who want only one PC. Newer notebook PCs with high-resolution, wide-aspect-ratio screens and powerful dual-core processors cater to this "one PC to rule them all" mentality.

In addition to having all enterprise and consumer features, Vista Ultimate also comes with both Tablet PC and Media Center functionality. It'll be interesting to see what kind of excuses some execs at many small and large companies will use to try to get new Vista boxes that come with Vista Ultimate. Like Vista Aero top-end video support, I think that Windows Ultimate will be an echelon-differentiating feature in business.

For more information about differences between Vista editions, please see the chart at the bottom of page 12 of the 20 Things You Won't Like About Windows Vista story.

Integrated 64-bit support

There's not a whole lot to say about the 64-bit versions of Windows Vista except these two things: 1. The future of Windows computing is 64-bit. 2. The future isn't here yet. But I'm not damning 64-bit Vista with faint praise. It's important for Microsoft to do what it's doing, biting the bullet and distributing 64-bit Windows, in the box with every version of Windows Vista except for Windows Vista Starter (which is designed to sell with very low-cost PCs in emerging markets around the world).

Windows Vista Starter

I got into this business because I've long believed in the power of the computer to unify the world. Sounds lofty, I know. But I've always seen it as a communications device. And with the birth of the Internet, it became one. The only trouble with that vision is that huge chunks of the world can't afford or don't have access to computer technology and Internet access. Several industry initiatives are underway aimed at bridging this gap. And Microsoft's efforts concern only one such initiative, so it's not the only player. But Microsoft, in conjunction with AMD, HSBC Bank Brasil, Infineon, Intel, Lenovo, Phoenix Technologies, Transmeta and others have already tested both a new business model and specifically created hardware and software for a "pay as you go" plan in Brazil.

In the test, PC buyers paid a down payment and took home a basic Windows PC. To use the PC, buyers had to purchase a card that extended so many hours of usage. When the number of hours expired, a new card was required to continue using the PC. After so many hours of usage, the PC would unlock and become unlimited property of the buyer.

Microsoft and its partners plan additional tests, beginning in India and including China, Hungary, Mexico, Russia, Slovenia and Vietnam.

Windows Vista Starter, which Microsoft has talked very little about to the press, is apparently being specifically designed to fit into future tests in emerging markets. Efforts like these could one day help welcome many new minds into the business and technology worlds. There are long-term effects from these efforts that could affect education, globalization, the world economy, outsourcing, the future of the tech industry and more. Next page: Conclusion 


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