Windows 7 Comparison

Windows 7 is available in six different editions, but only Home Premium, Professional and Ultimate are widely available at retail.[1] The other editions are focused at other markets, such as the developing world or enterprise use.[1] Each edition of Windows 7 includes all of the capabilities and features of the edition below it.[1][2][3][4][5] All editions support the 32-bit (IA-32) processor architecture and all editions except Starter support the 64-bit (x86-64) processor architecture (64-bit installation media is not included in Home Basic edition, but can be obtained from Microsoft).

According to Microsoft, the features for all editions of Windows 7 are stored on the machine, regardless of what edition is in use.[6] Users who wish to upgrade to an edition of Windows 7 with more features can then use Windows Anytime Upgrade to purchase the upgrade, and unlock the features of those editions.[2][6][7] Microsoft announced Windows 7 pricing information for some editions on June 25, 2009, and Windows Anytime Upgrade and Family Pack pricing on July 31, 2009.

Standard editions

Windows 7 Starter
The least-featured edition of Windows 7; the Windows Aero theme is not included, and it isn’t available in a 64-bit variant. The desktop wallpaper, and Visual Style (Windows 7 Basic) is also not user-changeable. This edition is available pre-installed on computers through system integrators or computer manufacturers.[10][11][12]

Windows 7 Home Basic
Windows 7 Home Basic is available in emerging markets such as Bangladesh, Brazil, People’s Republic of China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Thailand.[13] It is not available in countries such as Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Japan, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States.[13] Some Aero options are excluded along with several new features.[13] Home Basic, along with other editions sold in emerging markets, include geographical activation restriction, which requires users to activate Windows within certain region or country.[14]

Windows 7 Home Premium
This edition contains features aimed at the home market segment, such as Windows Media Center, Windows Aero and touch-screen controls.[15]

Windows 7 Professional
This edition is targeted towards enthusiasts and small business users.[16] It includes all the features of Windows 7 Home Premium, and adds the ability to participate in a Windows Server domain.[16] Additional features include operating as a Remote Desktop server, location aware printing, Encrypting File System, Presentation Mode, Software Restriction Policies (but not the extra management features of AppLocker) and Windows XP Mode.[16]

Windows 7 Enterprise
This edition targets the enterprise segment of the market and is sold through volume licensing to companies which have a Software Assurance contract with Microsoft.[17] Additional features include support for Multilingual User Interface (MUI) packages, BitLocker Drive Encryption, and UNIX application support.[17] Not available through retail or OEM channels, this edition is distributed through Microsoft Software Assurance (SA).[17] As a result it includes several SA-only benefits, including a license allowing the running of multiple virtual machines, and activation via VLK.[14]

Windows 7 Ultimate
Windows 7 Ultimate contains the same features as Windows 7 Enterprise, but unlike the Enterprise edition it is available to home users on an individual license basis.[18] Windows 7 Home Premium and Windows 7 Professional users are able to upgrade to Windows 7 Ultimate for a fee using Windows Anytime Upgrade if they wish to do so.[7] Unlike Windows Vista Ultimate, the Windows 7 Ultimate edition does not include the Windows Ultimate Extras feature or any exclusive features.[18]

Upgrade editions

Windows Vista can be upgraded to Windows 7 with an in-place upgrade if the processor architecture, comparable edition, and language version are the same.[2][7][19] Windows XP can only be upgraded to Windows 7 via a clean install.[2][7][20][21]. However, in some countries, Microsoft has recommended a clean install regardless of whether going from XP or Vista, with reasoning which has not been made clear.[22]

Standard upgrade editions

Windows 7 supports upgrading from an applicable version of XP, and Vista to an applicable version of Windows 7 via Upgrade Editions. The options mean that users can update freely from any previous version to any of the new three retail editions of Windows 7: Home Premium, Professional, or Ultimate (plus in Europe, and possibly South Korea, these Upgrade Editions also come in optional N versions). Discounted upgrade pricing is only available to current users of XP or Vista.[23]
[edit] Standard upgrade editions (Family Packs)

Windows 7 is available as an Upgrade Family Pack edition in certain markets, to upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium only. It gives licenses to upgrade three machines from XP (any edition) or Vista (Starter, Home Basic and Home Premium editions only) to the Windows 7 Home Premium edition. These are not full versions, so each machine to be upgraded must have one of these qualifying previous versions of Windows for them to work.[24]
[edit] Anytime Upgrade editions

Windows 7 also supports in-place upgrades from a lower edition of Windows 7 to a higher one using the Windows Anytime Upgrade tool.[7] There are currently three retail options available (though it is currently unclear whether they can be used with previous installations of the N versions):[25] Currently, there are no plans for family pack versions of the Anytime Upgrade editions. It’s possible to use the Product Key from a Standard upgrade edition to accomplish an in-place upgrade (e.g. Home Premium to Ultimate).

* Starter to Home Premium.
* Home Premium to Professional.
* Professional to Ultimate.
* Home Premium to Ultimate.


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