Microsoft has taken the wraps off the way it intends to market its new Windows 7 operating system, with two primary editions planned that it says will meet most customers' needs: Windows 7 Home Premium and Windows 7 Professional.
The company says Windows 7 Home Premium will be the recommended choice for consumers, with Windows 7 Professional earmarked for professionals, enthusiasts and business use. For specific market needs, like enterprise and emerging markets, Windows 7 will still be offered in specialised editions.
Colin Erasmus, who heads the Windows business at Microsoft SA, says the simplified strategy is in response to extensive user feedback that will provide the broadest choice for customers while preventing users from having to make tradeoffs when choosing the right products for their computing needs.
"It's all about choice," said Erasmus. "We have designed Windows 7 so different editions can run on a very broad set of hardware, from small-notebook PCs (netbooks) to full gaming desktops. We have created a line-up where each version is a superset of the previous one – in other words, each higher edition will have every feature lower editions have."
One of the niche markets that will be catered for is with Windows 7 is emerging markets, where PCs with limited hardware capability are common. Erasmus says Microsoft will recognize this by offering Windows 7 Home Basic for customers in emerging markets looking for an entry point Windows experience on a full-size value PC. Windows XP will continue to be offered in emerging markets.
Enterprise customers will get an offering that meets the security, infrastructure and desktop management demands of a large organisation.
"We'll continue to have an Enterprise edition. And we will work to make sure there continues to be strong value in Enterprise edition for our customers with Software Assurance agreements. This edition will not be available at retail or by OEMs for preinstallation on a new PC," says Erasmus.
Another key area that will be catered for in the new line-up is the burgeoning small notebook PC, or netbook, market. Originally considered a secondary or mobile PC, today customers are using them as fully functioning PCs.
"All editions of Windows 7 will work on many of these devices, with Windows Home Premium as the recommended edition on small notebook PCs with sufficient hardware so that customers can benefit from the full Windows experience. However, for devices that have limited hardware, OEMs will be able to offer Windows 7 Starter edition in both emerging and developed markets on small notebook PCs. Windows 7 Starter edition will be able to run only three applications at once," says Erasmus.
For the hardcore enthusiasts and non-enterprise customers that want the enhanced security features such as BitLocker found in Windows 7 Enterprise edition, Microsoft will continue to offer the Ultimate edition.