Updated: Windows 7 final editions announced

We recently revealed that Microsoft still hadn't announced how many flavors Windows 7 would ship in. In a recent briefing with Paul Thurrott, Microsoft Senior Vice President Bill Veghte revealed the SKUs that Windows 7 will ship in. "We feel that this lineup offers a clear onramp for Windows 7, making it easier than ever to find the right version for your needs", Veghte added. So without further ado, here is the official lineup of Windows 7 versions with an outlined overview:

Windows 7 Starter
Market: Emerging markets, with new PCs only
Key features: Enhanced taskbar, Jump Lists, Windows Media Player, Backup and Restore, Action Center, Device Stage, Play To, Fax and Scan, basic games
What's missing: Aero Glass, many Aero desktop enhancements, Windows Touch, Media Center, Live thumbnail previews, Home Group creation

Windows 7 Home Premium
Market: Mainstream retail market
Key features: Aero Glass, Aero Background, Windows Touch, Home Group creation, Media Center, DVD playback and authoring, premium games
What's missing: Domain join, Remote Desktop host, advanced backup, EFS, Mobility Center, Offline Folders

Windows 7 Professional (superset of Home)
Market: Mainstream retail market
Key features: Domain join, Remote Desktop host, location aware printing, EFS, Mobility Center, Presentation Mode, Offline Folders, Media Center
What's missing: BitLocker, BitLocker To Go, AppLocker, Direct Access, Branche Cache, MUI language packs, boot from VHD

Windows 7 Enterprise
Market: Volume-license business customers only
Key features: BitLocker, BitLocker To Go, AppLocker, Direct Access, Branche Cache, MUI language packs, boot from VHD
What's missing: Retail licensing

Windows 7 Ultimate
Market: Retail market, limited availability
Key features: BitLocker, BitLocker To Go, AppLocker, Direct Access, Branche Cache, MUI language packs, boot from VHD
What's missing: Volume licensing

There will be a Home Basic edition, but it will only be released to emerging markets. "We know emerging markets have unique needs and we will offer Windows 7 Home Basic, only in emerging markets, for customers looking for an entry-point Windows experience on a full-size value PC", said Windows General Manager Mike Ybarra. Paul Thurrot is reporting that Home Basic will lack "Aero Glass, Live Thumbnail Previews, Internet Connection Sharing, and a few other goodies."

As with Windows Vista, each different SKU offers unique features, with the most advanced in the Ultimate edition. Microsoft has yet to release any retail suggests pricing for these editions. Consumers now have three versions to choose from: Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate. Compared to the Windows Vista line up, which offered editions. What are your thoughts? Has Microsoft made it easier for the average PC user to choose which version is right for their PC and day-to-day use with the three versions they will be able to purchase?

Personally I believe the lineup has been made clearer compared to Windows Vista. Each tier offers a specific version for a specific audience. The biggest plus for consumers with these editions is the fact that the hottest feature of Windows Vista, Aero and its extras, are now offered in Starter and Home Premium editions rather than in Ultimate. But what about Ultimate? With the majority of consumers buying Vista Ultimate for Aero effects and it's extras, how will Windows 7 Ultimate be marketed to gain consumer attention? Has it became a redundant SKU?

Article last updated at: 1:53 P.M. (-6 GMT) to make the Author's opinion clearer.

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