The final release from Microsoft of WINDOWS 8 is around the corner; for some is a giant leap, and for some is a crude reminder of what happened with Vista, the fiasco.

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win 8 metro

Windows 8 GUI “Metro”

Well, it is a good idea [I suppose] to click on the refresh area in our memory and remember the Windows [pronounced “Win-Bugs”] edition that we are or were using, and planning to leave behind.

The Way We Were: XP and Vista

Product Editions

Back in 2001, life was easy: Microsoft released Windows XP in just two product editions, Windows XP Home Edition and Windows XP Professional Edition. The difference between the products was fairly obvious, and with its enhanced feature set, XP Pro was the more expensive and desirable version, as one might expect.

Over time, however, Microsoft muddied the waters with a wealth of new XP product editions.

Three major product editions were added: Windows XP Media Center Edition (which received three major releases and one minor update between 2002 and 2005), Windows XP Tablet PC Edition (which received two major releases between 2002 and 2005), and Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, which took most of XP Pro’s feature set and brought it to the x64 hardware platform. Other XP versions, such as XP Embedded and XP Starter Edition, can’t really be considered mainstream products, because they targeted specific usage scenarios and were never made broadly available to consumers.

Following is a list of the major Windows XP versions that Microsoft shipped between 2001 and 2006. 

win xp gui

Windows XP Graphical User Interface [GUI]

Windows XP Starter Edition (underdeveloped countries only)

Windows XP Embedded (sold in embedded devices only)

Windows XP Home Edition

Windows XP Home Edition N (European Union only)

Windows XP Media Center Edition

Windows XP Tablet Edition

Windows XP Professional Edition

Windows XP Professional Edition N (European Union only)

Windows XP Professional Edition K (South Korea only)

Windows XP Professional x64 Edition

Windows XP for Itanium-based systems

[In a moment, we’ll compare these products with their corresponding Vista versions.]

All Windows XP product versions, except Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, and Windows XP for Itanium-based systems, were available only in 32-bit versions.

For Windows Vista, Microsoft surveyed the market and came away with two observations.

vista gui

MS Windows Vista [GUI]

First, its experiment splitting the Windows XP (and Microsoft Office) product lines into

multiple product editions had proven enormously successful for the company. Second,

customers appeared willing to pay a bit more for premium product SKUs, such as XP

Media Center Edition, that offered extra features. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see

that Microsoft’s experiences over the past few years led directly to the situation we had

with Windows Vista: the company created six core Vista product editions, two of which

were considered premium versions. Or, if you include the so-called N and K editions (for

the European Union and South Korea, respectively), there were actually nine product editions.

Or, if you count the 32-bit and x64 (64-bit) versions separately, since they are in fact

sold separately for the most part, there were 17 product editions. Add the (RED) version of

Windows Vista Ultimate—which was originally available only with select new PCs from

Dell and, eventually, at retail—and you’ve got 18. Or something. Here’s the list:

Windows Vista Starter

Windows Vista Home Basic

Windows Vista Home Basic (x64)

Windows Vista Home Premium

Windows Vista Home Premium N (European Union only)

Windows Vista Home Premium (x64)

Windows Vista Home Premium N (x64) (European Union only)

Windows Vista Business

Windows Vista Business K (South Korea only)

Windows Vista Business N (European Union only)

Windows Vista Business (x64)

Windows Vista Business K (x64) (South Korea only)

Windows Vista Business N (x64) (European Union only)

Windows Vista Enterprise

Windows Vista Enterprise (x64)

Windows Vista Ultimate

Windows Vista Ultimate (x64)

Windows Vista Ultimate Product (RED) Edition

[May I add, what were they thinking???]

In addition to spamming the market with an unbelievable number of product editions,

Microsoft also increased the number of ways in which customers could acquire Windows

Vista. As always, most individuals simply got Vista with a new PC, and some continued

to purchase retail boxed copies of Windows Vista. Then there were the not-quite-retail

versions of the software, called OEM versions, which were technically supposed to be sold

only to PC makers, but were widely available online; and a new option called Windows

Anytime Upgrade that enabled you to upgrade from one version of Vista to another. It was

confusing. And it’s still that confusing, because these purchase options are all available

with Windows 7 as well. But then that’s why you’re reading this chapter, right?

Here’s our advice: don’t get bogged down in semantics or complicated counting exercises.

With a little bit of knowledge about how these product editions break down and are sold,

you can whittle the list down quite a bit very quickly and easily. Then, you can evaluate

which features are available in which editions and choose the one that’s right for you

based on your needs.

[Knowledge is wealth ! Visit Sistemas Ayala to get rich !!]

Come back soon,

NEXT we will dig into “ Windows 7 [simpler] Product Editions

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