Forget about the name - The real question is how many flavors will Windows 7 come in?

Forget about the name - The real question is how many flavors will Windows 7 come in?

Summary: Ed Bott's been sweating the small stuff, wondering what the next version of Windows will be called. To be perfectly honest with you, I couldn't care less what it's called. I'm far more interested in how many different flavors of the OS we can expect to have to deal with.


Ed Bott's been sweating the small stuff, wondering what the next version of Windows will be called. To be perfectly honest with you, I couldn't care less what it's called. I'm far more interested in how many different flavors of the OS we can expect to have to deal with.

First, a quick history lesson/timeline outlining the major version of Windows:

  • In the beginning there was Windows 1.0, released November 1985.
  • This was followed by Windows 2.0 at the end of 1987.
  • Windows 3.0 was released May 1990.
  • Windows 3.1 hit PC April 1992, which was closely followed by ...
  • Windows for Workgroups 3.1 released October 1992.
  • Windows NT 3.1 (which came in Workstation flavor only) was released July 1993.
  • Windows for Workgroups 3.11 was released August 1993.
  • Windows NT 3.5 Workstation and Server was released September 1994.
  • Windows NT 3.51 Workstation and Server was released May 1995.
  • Windows 95 (which can be considered to be the first consumer-oriented version of Windows) debuted August 1995.
  • Windows NT 4.0 Workstation, Server, Server Enterprise Edition, Terminal Server, and Embedded was released July 1996.
  • Windows 98 hit PC back in June 1998.
  • Windows 98SE came out May 1999.
  • Windows 2000 Professional, Server, Advanced Server, and Datacenter Server was released February 2000.
  • Windows Me was released September 2000 (some would say this OS escaped!).
  • With the release of Windows XP in October 2001 everything changed. This OS saw consumer and business OSes released under a single name. XP came in Home, and Professional, and of lesser importance, Media Center, and Tablet PC flavors (along with other lesser known flavors).
  • We then had to wait until November 2006 (or January 2007 for consumers) before we get to Windows Vista. Vista came in a whole raft of flavors - Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate, and of lesser importance, Starter, Home Basic N, and Business N.

Now what you notices from glancing at this timeline is that up until Vista, people didn't really need to think that much about what flavor of OS they wanted since there was really only one consumer flavor and one professional flavor to choose from. With the release of Vista Microsoft changed the rules dramatically and offered three different versions to consumers - Home Basic, Home Premium, and Ultimate. Home Basic was there to allow OEMs to sell sub-standard PCs, while the differences between Home Premium and Ultimate are artificial and there mostly for the purposes of marketing.

Now, ideally I'd like to see Microsoft return to a situation where there's one consumer and one professional flavor of Windows. In fact, why not take it a step further and adopt the Mac approach and go with a single version. From a marketing/sales POV that's not likely to happen, but if the OS is designed to be modular, there's no reason why it couldn't work.

Another reason why a return to a simpler time is unlikely is because Microsoft seems to have embraced the idea of numerous flavors not only with Windows but also with Office, which now ships in no less than five different flavors. Office 2007 was developed under the leadership of Steven Sinofsky. Sinofsky now leads the Windows team.

My best guess (and at present it is only a guess) is that Windows 7 will ship in much the same flavors as Vista, except with the possibility that the Home Basic flavor will be eliminated because it looks somewhat superfluous in light of modern hardware.

Thoughts? Guesses?

Topics: Operating Systems, Microsoft, Servers, Software, Windows

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  • They'll all be bitter.

    Don't get me wrong. I'm what passes for a happy Microsoft user, but all the "flavors" have and shall continue to leave a bitter taste and confused consumers. Another plus for Apple.
    Hey Microsoft! Simplify. Please.
    • Yeah, Apple wins the "version wars" hands down

      One version with everything included for a reasonable price. Simple. No confusion. No wondering what got left out. No feeling like you got ripped off. When you try to support somebody using their OS, you don't have to figure out what features are missing from their particular installation. Way to go Apple! Nice job!

      Hey Microsoft - Please learn from Apple! They did it right.
      • I Agree

        That is so TRUE
        I use windows
        but this part i do agree on
        & i have a feeling, windows is trying to do what apple is doing
        • Not so sure about that

          Microsoft highlights "choice" in their ads. So more flavours means more "choices".
          • too much

            Thats the problem with the world, especially the U.S. we have way TOOOOO many choices in life. Unfortunately though there are way TOOO many stupid people too.(sorry, not trying to be mean at all)
        • I Agree

          I agree as well. But MicroSoft is not doing anything like that at all and won't, heres why... First off, M S could have just plainly marketed Win7 (which I love from first beta) as "WINDOWS 7 ULTIMATE", but their not. WHY we ask. Because the people who opted to buy Win 7 BASIC, Home basic, Win 7 Home Premium or whatever flavor MS wants to run with, wanted to stay cheap, or bought a low priced PC, just to find out that they need to run a program and the low grade version of Win 7 wont support it. Hmmm, now we need to UPGRADE. Well I dont have alot of money now so I'll just move up to Win 7 Home Premium--> SALE to M S. Ow man I got another program and it wont load because I should have purchased Win 7 Ultimate in the first place. What a waste of money.

          See people, every new full verion of windows is a sale for Microsoft. Every new UPGRADE dvd is a sale for Microsoft.

          Just another little hint for everyone out looking to buy the NEW WIN 7 O.S.... Dont buy the FULL version, just buy the UPGRADE. Heres why... Full and upgrade are identical other than the PRICE. When you purchase the upgrade, be sure to have a full version (and legal copy)of Vista disk handy. You'll need it.
      • Mac OS Server anyone?

        I am hoping the point being made, was that the End User version of Mac OS was a single "complete" version. Mac OS does have a Consumer and a Professional/Enterprise grade of the OS.

        I use Windows, Linux and Mac OS at my place of employment and I will say that Mac OS outshines them all in providing a feature-rich version of the OS that is simplistic in nature.

        I'm just pointing out however, that there are two "versions" of Mac OS.
        • Consumer Versions

          The article is about Desktop versions. Versions offered for Desktop use. If you noticed past Windows NT he no longer mentioned Server Versions of Windows as they are not even offered to the end user. Vista has no less than 4 (technically more) versions JUST for home use, and that doesn't count Business which is also offered for the end desktop.
        • KISS

          Exactly. why frusterate the people that are making you wealthy? But its all a catch 22 though. Apple is doing the K.I.S.S. (keep it simple stupid). Apple customers are getting what they pay for. Its like going to a burger joint and getting a plain hamburger at $10. For $12 bucks I can get a hamburger with Ketchup and mustard; $14 bucks and I can get it with cheese too, and so on and so on. Apple is giving customers what they pay for, frusteration free computing.

          MicroSoft, well they can do it too, but they wont because they know alot of people cant afford it and thats how MicroGreed got to be where they are today.

          Now dont think I hate MicroSoft; I dont. I am one of the people cant just cant see dropping that kind of dough. And when I get a new O.S. from MS, I always go for the biggie first.
      • Wrong

        But apple is not backwards compatible. So if you have 10,000 in software for version 9 then you got to 10 and you have to spend that money all over again. then when you got to 10.4 buy it all again.. oh you are now going to the intel mac.. guess what. time to replace it all again.
        • Please Explain

          I have a Mac at Work and have gone through 3 Separate versions of the OS. [b]All[/b] of the tools that I use are backwards compatible with every version of the OS that we've upgraded to.

          That said, you have a point about Jobs' latest announcement that they are abandoning the PPC chipset for "Snow Leopard", however that isn't going to mean that you [b]must[/b] replace your hardware. Unless you're in some type of industry that requires you to keep all of the latest tools and gadgetry, there's no need to continually upgrade them, and thus the abandonment of the PPC chipset becomes moot. As you require new functionality, you roll them in over time, and decommission the older hardware.

          Coming from a SW Development background myself, it's actually good practice to eliminate backwards compatibility at some point in time, otherwise you end up with Vista. An OS that now eats 10gigabytes of space or more on your Hard Drive for a default installation.

          Does it really make sense to be forced to maintain complete backwards compatibility all of the time? even XP and Vista required updates to device drivers because core architectural difference arose between prior versions. Are you trying to tell me that new hardware better be completely backwards compatible so old device drivers will work on it? It's a ludicrous point to make.

          Windows rolls their revisions, Mac rolls their revisions and even Linux rolls revisions (much faster than Win and Mac to be accurate). And when Linux rolls kernel revisions, be prepared for some of your applications (Say like Nortel Contivity clients, etc) to no longer be supported.

          I'd choose Mac or Windows over Linux any day because I can at least know that my applications will usually be supported within the same major version update. Linux on the other hand is tied to kernel version, not the announced OS version. Who sucks more???
    • Sadly though ...

      ... one size does not fit all. Apple's model may be well-suited to the individual consumer but it is not well-suited to the enterprise.

      Microsoft (and, yes, Linux vendors too) understand this. Still five editions (not including server editions) is too many.

      BASIC, HOME, and PRO is all you need.
      M Wagner
  • You Forgot Windows XP 64-Bit

    Thought I'd point that out.
    • Counting 64 bit versions

      Would double the number of Vista SKU's also. Since
      every version of vista comes in 64 bit versions as
      well as 32 bit, exclusing home basic.
      Alan Burns
      • Sillyness

        Both 32 and 64bit should come on the same media (or at least the same package.)

        Having separate SKU's is just stupidity.

        As far as the N and non-N versions, so be it. Have 4 versions. Home, Home-N, Pro, Pro-N. That is enough.
        Office needs to get back to Home and Pro too (MAYBE enterprise as a third.)

        It's a mess though.
    • lol

      Thanks. We really appreciate it. Lol
  • Hey, captain illiteracy...

    They've said constantly that it will ship as a customizable amalgamation of services. I'd stop speculating and wait and see. Everything they've written suggests it will be one distribution that is customizable to the user's needs.
    • re: Hey, captian illiteracy...

      You'll probably have to order your Windows functions a la cart, like the iTunes music store:

      Check the Windows Services you'd like to purchase for your Windows 7 operating system!

      [] IE 8 :: $0.99
      [] TCP/IP :: $0.99
      [] DNS :: $0.99
      [] Desktop :: $0.99
      [] Icons :: $0.99
      [] Mouse :: $0.99
      • Oh

        Ya, that about somes it up. But I think that will be in service pack 1.
    • sure

      [i]I'd stop speculating and wait and see.[/i]

      Or ZDNet could just shut down. Most of the articles are speculation based on given information.