This document goes over the various different versions, called editions by Microsoft, of Windows Vista.
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These products are no longer actively supported by Microsoft. No further development will take place on these products and security updates are no longer issued. It is highly recommended that you upgrade to Windows 10, 8, or 7.
This edition is limited to emerging markets such as Colombia, India, Thailand, and Indonesia. It is intended as a low-cost way to obtain Windows legally and has significant limitations on functionality, including only running in 32-bit mode, a max of 256mb of ram, and only supporting low-end processors. Starter will not be available in the United States, Canada, Europe, or Australia.
Similar to Windows XP Home, Home Basic edition is targeted at budget-conscious users who do not need multimedia functions on their PC. The Windows Aero theme with translucent effects will not be included with this edition.
The premium version of Vista for home users includes all the features of Home Basic plus additional multimedia support such as HDTV compatibility and DVD authoring. Home Premium supports mobile and tablet PC systems. It includes extra games, a backup utility, increased network capabilities, support for network projectors, touchscreens and auxiliary displays. This version is most similar to Windows XP Media Center Edition.
Aimed at the business market, this version is similar to Windows XP Professional. It includes all the features of Home Premium with the exception of the Windows Media Center, Parental Controls, Windows DVD Maker, and Movie Maker HD (the standard version of Movie Maker is included instead). Features that are supported in Business that are not available in either Home version are: true dual processor (two physical sockets) support, IIS web server, fax support, file system encryption, offline file support, a full version of Remote Desktop, Windows ShadowCopy, and some ad-hoc P2P collaboration tools.
Business edition on steroids, Enterprise is aimed at the enterprise section of the business market. Additional features include multilingual user interface support, BitLocker Drive Encryption, and UNIX application support. This edition will not be available through retail or OEM channels, but through Microsoft Software Assurance. UW-Madison has access to this Edition of Vista through the 2006-2009 Microsoft Desktop Campus Agreement.
This is it. The king of the hill; the top of the heap; the best of the best. This is the ultimate version of Windows Vista. It combines the features of Home Premium and Enterprise Edition. Ultimate edition is aimed at high-end PC users, gamers, multimedia professionals, and PC enthusiasts. Microsoft is still announcing new features that will be exclusive to this version. More information on Ultimate extras is available on Microsoft's website here.