Windows Vista Editions

Those who were slightly confused by the two different versions of Windows XP—the Home Edition and the Professional Edition—will be flummoxed by the dizzying array of different Windows Vista versions. There are five different core Vista versions, for everyone from users with bare-bones PCs, to home users interested in multimedia, to users who work in large enterprises. As a practical matter, though, most home users will end up with Windows Vista Home Premium; those in many businesses will end up with Windows Vista Business; and those in very large corporations will run Windows Vista Enterprise Edition. Here’s the rundown on the five core versions and how they differ:

Windows Vista Home Basic

As the name implies, this edition offers only bare-bones features. It’s designed to run on entry-level PCs and doesn’t have the Windows Aero interface, doesn’t support creating video DVDs, and lacks Media Center features. It is missing more as well, such as mobility features, and it doesn’t support Tablet PCs. Most likely, few people will opt for this version of Windows Vista.

Windows Vista Business

This version is aimed at users in small to medium-size businesses. It includes Windows Aero, supports Tablet PCs, and has most other Vista features. But it doesn’t have a variety of multimedia features, such as the capability to create and burn video DVDs. It does, though, have a variety of features aimed at IT staff, such as wireless network provisioning capabilities, Remote Desktop connections, image-based backup, and other network administration features.

Windows Vista Home Premium

This has Aero and supports all of the multimedia Vista features, such as creating video DVDs, slide show creation, and the Windows Media Center. It supports basic networking and wireless networking, but it doesn’t have network administration tools, wireless network provisioning, or the capability to connect to a domain. It also doesn’t have the Encrypting File System (EFS) or image-based backup.

Windows Vista Enterprise Edition

This one is for large enterprises, and only businesses that have Microsoft Software Assurance or a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement get this version. It offers everything that Windows Vista Business does, and it includes hardware-based encryption, called BitLocker Drive Encryption, which employs a physical hardware key and a passcode to secure volumes. This version also comes as a single image that enterprises can deploy from a central location.

Windows Vista Ultimate

Like the name says, this is the Mother of All Vistas. It has all the features and tools in every other version of Vista—the networking and administrative tools of the various business editions, and the multimedia features of the home editions.

Note that there are actually eight Vista versions. The remaining three versions will be sold only outside the United States. The Windows Vista Starter edition will be sold only on low-end PCs in emerging markets, and two “N” versions of Vista are required to be sold in the European Union. The N versions lack some media-related features.

Table 1-1 provides more detailed information about the different Vista versions, as well as where to turn to learn more.

Table 1-1. Comparing selected features in various versions of Windows Vista

Feature

Home Basic

Home Premium

Business

Enterprise Edition

Ultimate

Chapter providing more information

Windows Aero

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

3

Parental Controls

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes

8

Windows DVD Maker

No

Yes

No

No

Yes

12

Tablet PC features

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

7

Remote Desktop

Client only

Client only

Host and client

Host and client

Host and client

7

Automated backup

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

11

Back up to a network device or folder

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

11

Create images of desktops for easy backup and recovery

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

11

Windows Shadow Copy (automatically creates copies of files to make it easy to restore deleted or lost files)

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

4

Fax and scan

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

9

Windows Media Center

No

Yes

No

No

Yes

12

BitLocker Drive Encryption

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

8

Capability to create themed slide shows

No

Yes

No

No

Yes

12

Windows Movie Maker

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes

12

Wireless network provisioning (allows administrators to set network-side security settings)

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

7

Encrypting File System

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

8

Network Access Protection (stops nonsecure PCs from connecting to a network)

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

8

Windows Anytime Upgrade (automated online upgrades to Windows Vista)

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

11

Network projection (allows connecting to network projectors wirelessly)

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

7

Windows Meeting Space (allows collaboration over networks)

Can view meetings only

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

7

Domain support (allows a PC to join a corporate domain)

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

7

Group Policy support (allows administrators to set corporate-wide settings for networking, hardware, and so on)

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

10

Offline files and folders (allows users to automatically synchronize with network files and folders)

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

4

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