Which Vista (if any) to buy?


Paull Thurrott looks at the ridiculous number of Windows Vista versions and how confusing they all are for end users.

When I first revealed that Microsoft would sell Windows Vista in an unprecedented number of product versions way back in September 2005, I questioned the reasoning behind this decision. Consumers, I felt, would be confused by the myriad of options available to them, and the diversification of the Windows product line would cause support headaches.

Clearly, I suffer from a lack of imagination because it’s way worse than I ever thought it could be now that Vista is widely available. Simply counting the number of Vista versions Microsoft is currently selling is an effort in futility. Sure, there’s Windows Vista Starter, Vista Home Basic, Vista Home Premium, Vista Business, Vista Enterprise, and Vista Ultimate. But there are also the so-called N versions of Vista Home Premium and Vista Business in the EU (where, I believe, “N” stands for “no one is interested”). There are separate Upgrade and Full versions of Vista Home Basic, Home Premium (and Home Premium N), Business (and Business N), and Ultimate. And though Vista Ultimate includes both 32-bit and 64-bit media in the retail box, Vista Home Basic, Home Premium, and Business all ship in separate 32-bit and 64-bit versions as well. Are there separate 32-bit and 64-bit Upgrade and Full versions of these products? You know, I’m not sure.

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