OMG! 57 versions of Windows 7!

Windows 7
The Windows 7 line-up isn't as complicated as some are reporting

Let's play a game called Ask The Internet.

Internet! How many versions of Windows 7 will there be?

"Six! Five! Six! Five! Seven! Eleventy-three!"

Let's play another game, called Let's Go Into A Shop.

Shop Person! How many versions of Windows 7 will you sell?


Any advance on two, Shop Person?

"No! Two!"

The stories of multiple editions are technically true, if you include versions of Windows 7 that you and I will never, ever see, such as the versions for emerging markets, for enterprise customers such as global corporations, or the Media Player - and instant messenger-free versions Microsoft is legally obliged to sell in some countries.

But if we're going for technically accurate, we might as well factor in different languages and conclude that there will be 132 different editions.

We're the first to mock Microsoft when the firm deserves it, but the Windows 7 line-up simply isn't as complicated as some reports would have you believe. For the majority of us there will be two choices, just as there were with Windows XP. Home user? Windows 7 Home Premium. Home worker or small business? Windows 7 Professional.

For the very few people who want both Home Premium and Professional without the hassle of dual-booting or the expense of twin licences, there's a third, halfway house option in the form of Ultimate, which is essentially Home Premium and Professional glued together.

And that, for most of us, is that. Is Microsoft selling more versions of its OS than Apple? Yes, but Apple doesn't have to support low-spec kit in emerging markets and it doesn't sell squillions of copies to multinational corporations. Will Microsoft sell other versions of Windows 7? Yes. Will you see them in the shops, or as an option when you spec a new PC? No.

Will you be stuck with the Starter edition when you buy a netbook? Not unless your idea of a netbook is a calculator with a keyboard glued to it: according to a Microsoft spokesperson, "Customers who have only basic computing requirements can choose Windows 7 Starter Edition... however, Windows 7 was designed in a way that any edition of the OS should be able to run on small notebook PCs with sufficient hardware."

Does Microsoft deserve a kicking? Not this time. Ask us again when we've seen the price list.


Now read TechRadar's Hands on: Windows 7 Beta 1 review

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Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.