Windows Vista Starter Edition: Aimed at beginner computer users in emerging markets who can only afford a low cost PC. As with the XP version, Windows Vista Starter Edition is a subset of Home Edition, and will ship in a 32-bit version only (no 64-bit x64 version). Starter Edition will allow only three applications (and/or three windows) to run simultaneously, will provide Internet connectivity but not incoming network communications, and will not provide for logon passwords or Fast User Switching (FUS). Windows Vista Starter Edition is analogous to XP Starter Edition. This version will only be sold in emerging markets.
Windows Vista Home Basic Edition: A simple version of Windows Vista that is aimed at single PC homes. Windows Vista Home Basic is the baseline version of Windows Vista, and the version that all other product editions will build from. It will include features such as Windows Firewall, Windows Security Center, secure wireless networking, parental controls, anti-spam/anti-virus/anti-spyware functionality, network map, Windows Search, the Aero user interface, Movie Maker, Photo Library, Windows Media Player, Outlook Express with RSS support, P2P Messenger, and more. Windows Vista Home Basic Edition is roughly analogous to Windows XP Home Edition. This version is aimed at general consumers, Windows 9x/XP Starter Edition upgraders, and price sensitive/first-time buyers.
Windows Vista Home Premium Edition: Whole home entertainment and personal productivity throughout the home and on the go. As a true superset of Home Basic, Windows Vista Home Premium Edition will include everything from Home Basic, as well as Media Center and Media Center Extender functionality (including Cable Card support), DVD video authoring and HDTV support, DVD ripping support (yes, you read that right), Tablet PC functionality, Mobility Center and other mobility and presentation features, auxiliary display support, P2P ad-hoc meeting capabilities, Wi-Fi auto-config and roaming, unified parental controls that work over multiple PCs, backup to network functionality, Internet File Sharing, Offline Folders, PC-to-PC sync, Sync Manager, and support for Quattro Home Server. Windows Vista Premium Edition is similar to XP Media Center Edition, except that it adds numerous other features and functionality, including Tablet PC support. My guess is that this will be the volume consumer offering in the Windows Vista timeframe (today, XP Pro is the dominant seller). This version is aimed at PC enthusiasts, multiple-PC homes, homes with kids, and notebook users.
Windows Vista Professional Edition: A powerful, reliable and secure OS for businesses of all sizes. Windows Vista Pro Edition will include domain join and management functionality, compatibility with non-Microsoft networking protocols (Netware, SNMP, etc.), Remote Desktop, IIS Web server, and Encrypted File System (EFS). Additionally, Pro Standard will include Tablet PC functionality. Windows Vista Pro is roughly analogous to XP Pro today. This version is aimed at business decision makers and IT managers and generalists.
Windows Vista Small Business Edition: Designed for small businesses without IT staff. Small Business Edition is a superset of Vista Pro Standard Edition, and includes the following unique features: Backup and Shadow Copy support, Castle and server-join networking, and PC fax and scanning utility. Additionally, Microsoft is looking at including a number of other features, many of which might be cut: These include Small Business Edition guided tour, pre-paid access to the Windows Live! Small Business or Microsoft Office Live! subscription services, Multi-PC Health (a managed version of Microsoft One Care Live), and membership in the Microsoft Small Business Club online service. Microsoft will offer a Step-Up program for Small Business Edition that will allow customers to upgrade to Windows Vista Enterprise Edition (see below) or Windows Vista Ultimate Edition (see below) at a reduced cost. This SKU is new to Windows Vista; there is no XP Small Business Edition. This version is aimed at small business owners and managers.
Windows Vista Enterprise Edition: Optimized for the enterprise, this version will be a true superset of Windows Vista Pro Edition. It will also include unique features such as Virtual PC, the multi-language user interface (MUI), and the Secure Startup/full volume encryption security technologies ("Cornerstone"). There is no analogous XP version for this product. This version is aimed at business decision makers, IT managers and decision makers, and information workers/general business users.
Windows Vista Ultimate Edition: The best operating system ever offered for a personal PC, optimized for the individual. Windows Vista Ultimate Edition is a superset of both Vista Home Premium and Vista Pro Edition, so it includes all of the features of both of those product versions, plus adds Game Performance Tweaker with integrated gaming experiences, a Podcast creation utility (under consideration, may be cut from product), and online "Club" services (exclusive access to music, movies, services and preferred customer care) and other offerings (also under consideration, may be cut from product). Microsoft is still investigating how to position its most impressive Windows release yet, and is looking into offering Ultimate Edition owners such services as extended A1 subscriptions, free music downloads, free movie downloads, Online Spotlight and entertainment software, preferred product support, and custom themes. There is nothing like Vista Ultimate Edition today. This version is aimed at high-end PC users and technology influencers, gamers, digital media enthusiasts, and students.