Windows 7 SKUs Announced

by Alex Kuretz on February 3, 2009 · 4 comments

in News

I’ve received information from Microsoft announcing plans for the different SKUs that will be available for Windows 7. They are: Windows® 7 Starter, Windows® 7 Home Basic (in Emerging Markets only), Windows® 7 Home Premium, Windows® 7 Professional, Windows® 7 Enterprise and Windows® 7 Ultimate.

Microsoft recommends Windows 7 Home Premium for most consumer customers and Windows 7 Professional for consumers who want additional features and functionality useful for small business activities. They recommend Windows 7 Professional for most business customers and Windows 7 Enterprise for medium-to-large business and enterprise customers that choose to license Windows through Software Assurance.

The features in each version of Windows 7 build upon the one before it, and customers gain additional features and lose none as they move up from one SKU to the next, from Windows 7 Starter through Windows 7 Ultimate.

Here are some specifics about the SKUs and the features provided for each level.

  • Windows 7 Starter – Up to 3 concurrent applications; able to join a Home Group; improved taskbar and JumpLists; No Aero Glass
  • Windows 7 Home Basic – Starter features; unlimited applications; No Aero Glass; Live Thumbnail Previews & enhanced visual experience; advanced networking support (ad-hoc wireless networks and internet connection sharing); Mobility Center
  • Windows 7 Home Premium – Home Basic features; unlimited applications, Aero Glass & advanced windows navigation; improved media format support, enhancements to Windows Media Center and media streaming, including Play To; multi-touch and improved handwriting recognition
  • Windows 7 Professional – Professional features; unlimited applications; ability to join a managed network with Domain Join; protect data with advanced network backup and Encrypting File System; Print to the right printer at home or work with Location Aware Printing
  • Windows 7 Enterprise and Ultimate – Professional and Consumer; unlimited applications; BitLocker data protection on internal and external drives; DirectAccess provides seamless connectivity to your corporate network. (requires Windows Server 2008 R2); Decrease time branch office workers wait to open file across the network with BranchCache. (requires Windows Server 2008 R2); Prevent unauthorized software from running with AppLocker; Ultimate includes all Enterprise and all Home Premium features, including multi-language packs; Windows 7 Enterprise is available only through Microsoft Volume Licensing

I believe Remote Desktop functionality is included with Professional, which is of great interest to those of us that want to use the Remote Access features of our Windows Home Servers and I’m glad to see that we likely won’t need Ultimate to get this functionality.

I’ll be honest, this seems like a lot of SKUs, and many people weren’t happy with the broad amount of selection in Vista so I’m a bit surprised to see Microsoft sticking to this model. I don’t have any pricing info at this time, and will update if I get further info.

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I'm Alex Kuretz, and I'm the founder of I was the Lead Test and Integration Engineer at HP for the MediaSmart Server until April 2008 when I moved on to other opportunities outside HP. I've kept active in the Windows Home Server community, creating several add-ins and helping users make the most of their Home Servers.


Graham February 4, 2009 at 7:18 am

Hmm… seems like a few of those may be aimed at bait and switch. Starter sounds like it will be very reasonably priced, but hamstrung. I’d imagine every time you try to open that fourth concurrent app there will be a notification balloon directing you at windows anytime upgrade to move to home premium. This may be a wise move on their part. But I think it would be wiser if they sold just one stripped down sku for say… 40 bucks? Integrate Windows Marketplace with the OS, and let you choose the features important to you a la carte when you stumble upon their absense (this would also get them out of a lot of anti-trust hot water). This is a model that is working very well for mobile phones, so I’m surprised they have not considered this pattern.

Gardian February 13, 2009 at 5:21 am

Microsoft just does not get it. Even a child will learn from its mistakes.
Windows ME was a equal flop, at least they came back with something new and better [XP].
But now they seem bound and determined to Force Vista on everybody, weather it works or not.
Unreal low machine hardware specs and a wireless setup that is a huge step backwards, just to name a few.

Windows 7, right.
A child learns, Microsoft just gets more bullheaded.
I will be running XP pro for many years, it seems.

Rob Dee March 4, 2009 at 12:19 pm

Windows 7 is far superior in numerous ways to XP; I suggest giving it a try – even some of those people with underpowered hardware who complained loudly about Vista are being won over – and its still in Beta!

Alex Kuretz March 9, 2009 at 12:51 pm

I’ve had Windows 7 running on my Acer Aspire One netbook for several weeks now, and have been very pleased overall. It does seem to perform much better than Vista on slower hardware and I’ve had very few issues considering it’s in Beta still.

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