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Vista: Ready To Launch, But Which Version?

Column: Accountant Tech Talk

From the January-March 2007 Issue & 2007
Tax Season Survival Guide

Well, here it is the middle of October (when I’m writing this column).
The 2006 tax season is finally drawing to an end, and the 2007 season is only
three months away — now that’s depressing. However, you may very
well be cranking those 2007 returns on a new operating system — Windows
Vista. Microsoft has imposed its own deadline of October 25 for the release
of Vista, and I’m writing this article on RC-1 (RC is for Release Candidate)
while downloading RC-2. Each subsequent release gets a little better —
more included driver support and more stability. I’m particularly impressed
with the performance enhancements and the modern look and feel of the OS. I
have written previously about Windows Vista, but because we’re so close
to launch (and actually, by the time you read this, you will either own or have
thought about owning the OS), I wanted to write some more about the version
choices for Vista.

Microsoft licensing is well known for the confusing and many times frustrating
myriad of choices with its various products. Licensing alone needs a specialist
to determine which licensing method is right for you. With the addition of Windows
Vista, that tradition continues with five (count ’em) different version
choices. The five versions, in no particular order, are as follows:

The Five Versions of Vista

  • Windows Vista Home Basic
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • Windows Vista Business
  • Windows Vista Enterprise
  • Windows Vista Ultimate

Windows Vista Home Basic
A simple version of Windows Vista that is aimed at single PC homes. Windows
Vista Home Basic is the baseline version of Windows Vista, and the version
that all other product editions will build from. It will include features
such as Windows Firewall, Windows Security Center, secure wireless networking,
parental controls, anti-spam/anti-virus/anti-spyware functionality, network
map, Windows Search, Movie Maker, Photo Library, Windows Media Player, Outlook
Express with RSS support, P2P Messenger, and more. Windows Vista Home Basic
is roughly analogous to Windows XP Home Edition. Like Starter 2007, Vista
Home Basic will not support the new Aero user interface.

Windows Vista Home Premium
This is whole home entertainment and personal productivity throughout the
home and on the go. As a true superset of Home Basic, Windows Vista Home Premium
will include everything from Home Basic, as well as Media Center and Media
Center Extender functionality (including Cable Card support), DVD video authoring
and HDTV support, DVD ripping support, Tablet PC functionality, Mobility Center
and other mobility and presentation features, auxiliary display support, P2P
ad-hoc meeting capabilities, Wi-Fi auto-config and roaming, unified parental
controls that work over multiple PCs, backup to network functionality, Internet
File Sharing, Offline Folders, PC-to-PC sync, Sync Manager, and support for
Quattro Home Server (a Windows Server 2003 R2-based server product aimed at
the home market). Windows Vista Home Premium is similar to XP Media Center
Edition, except that it adds numerous other features and functionality, including
Tablet PC support.

Windows Vista Business
This is a powerful, reliable and secure OS for businesses of all sizes. Windows
Vista Business will include domain join and management functionality, compatibility
with non-Microsoft networking protocols (NetWare, SNMP, etc.), Remote Desktop,
Microsoft Windows Web Server, and Encrypted File System (EFS). Additionally,
Vista Business will include Tablet PC functionality. Windows Vista Business
is roughly analogous to XP Pro today.

Windows Vista Enterprise
Optimized for the enterprise, this version will be a true superset of Windows
Vista Business. It will also include unique features such as Virtual PC, the
multi-language user interface (MUI), and the Secure Startup/full volume encryption
security technologies (“Cornerstone”). There is no analogous XP
version for this product. This version is aimed at business decision-makers,
IT managers and decision-makers, and information workers/general business
users. Vista Enterprise will be offered exclusively through Software Assurance,
which means you can’t buy this in your favorite software store.

Windows Vista Ultimate
This is the best operating system ever offered for a personal PC, optimized
for the individual. Windows Vista Ultimate is a superset of both Vista Home
Premium and Vista Business, so it includes all of the features of both of
those product versions, plus it adds Game Performance Tweaker with integrated
gaming experiences, and online “Club” services (exclusive access
to music, movies, services and preferred customer care), and other offerings
(also under consideration, may be cut from product). Microsoft is still investigating
how to position its most impressive Windows release yet and is looking into
offering Vista Ultimate owners such services as extended A1 subscriptions,
free music downloads, free movie downloads, Online Spotlight and entertainment
software, preferred product support, and custom themes. There is nothing like
Vista Ultimate today. This version is aimed at high-end PC users and technology
influencers, gamers, digital media enthusiasts, and students.


Windows Starter 2007:
In addition, there will reportedly be yet another (although not Vista branded)
version of Windows called Windows Starter 2007, aimed at beginner computer users
in emerging markets who can only afford a low-cost PC. This will be a subset
of Vista Home Basic and will ship in a 32-bit version only (no 64-bitx64 version).
Starter 2007 will allow only three applications (and/or three windows) to run
simultaneously, will provide Internet connectivity but not incoming network
communications, and will not provide for logon passwords or Fast User Switching
(FUS). Starter 2007 is analogous to XP Starter Edition. This version will only
be sold in emerging markets. Remember the XP Starter Edition came out of the
legal battles between Microsoft and the EU.

So as 2006 comes to a close, it’s no longer a decision of whether to
buy the new version (Vista) or not; it’s more a decision of which version
to buy.


Mr. Goodfellow is a partner of BKR Fordham Goodfellow, LLP, and manages
its wholly owned subsidiary One Tech, LLC. He can be reached at 503-648-8523
ext. 115.