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Which Windows Vista (if any) is right for me?

The UK windows Vista launch is nearly upon us. The 30th of January 2007 will see the first new operating system from Microsoft in 5-6years.
Written by David Long David, Contributor

The UK windows Vista launch is nearly upon us. The 30th of January 2007 will see the first new operating system from Microsoft in 5-6years.

With potentially a huge leap in performance, security and features it will be high on a lot of people's wish list. However, picking the right vista edition isn't as easy as it could be. This mainly because there are so many new features. To understand what is missing from a premium edition compared to the ultimate (for example) you have to try and find out what the features are, understand what they will do and figure out if you really need them.

Vista Basic Vista Home Premium Vista Business Vista Ultimate

First of the easiest one to explain is Vista basic. This is designed for low end systems or people that simply don't have the budget for a superior version. It will run on pretty much any PC that XP did. I only recommend this edition to two groups of people 1 - You have a low end system and don't plan to upgrade your hardware for a very long time. 2 - You have no OS for a new self built system and are on a tight budget.

Otherwise even if your system can't handle all the features of a premium edition now, you can still use the premuim or ultimate editions in Basic mode until you upgrade your hardware. If you are really strapped for cash then it may not be worth getting Vista at all right now as XP isn't going anywhere. The benefits are a more secure and possibly faster windows with the new intergrated search features.

Apparently, whatever edition you get you are provided with the same content on the disc. It is your license key that unlocks the features you have paid for. This means you will likely be able to upgrade you edition at a future date with just a code, but why pay twice, get the right edition now.

The Business and Home Premium Editions are contain more of the new fancy features including the new Aero desktop experience. This adds impressive visual effects that not only look great but can aid in actually using your PC more effectively. You also get access to Windows Meeting Space which enables you to link up with other vista users through the web. Both will also include voice recognition, Gadgets (like mac widgets), Animated desktops and host of other features that I won't go into as we are looking to find the differences.

The home Premuim edition will feature windows media centre features such as DVD video editing/burning and tools to access your music, video and pictures in smart ways - even through an xbox360. This will be the main edition for the home user.

What the Business edition misses out on in the entertainment side it makes up for with business tools. Although Premium edition will include remote desktop the business edition will include more advanced remote access tools allowing you to connect to secure networks and has virtual PC, roaming profiles etc. This is aimed at the business user. However, if you do not require the backup, or domain join for windows features or have 3rd party software that already does this for you, you may want to consider the Premium edition anyway for the fun features.

Ultimate editoin includes all the fun entertainment features of premium plus the remote access and backup features of business with some extras. Exlusive to Ultimate edition is BitLocker Drive encryption and Ultimate Extras. The Ultimate extras will enable you to download addons for windows free as they are released. These may include simple things like new desktop themes, but it will also include useful applications and gadgets. At CES microsoft demoed one such freebie as a photo editing tool. It enabled the novice user to simply take the best elements of two different pictures and seemlessly merge them into one good picture.

I personally wanted the Home Premium Edition as it represents value for money (£100 cheaper than Ultimate) had all the features I wanted. However the Ultimate extras may sway me to pay that bit extra.

Pricing: Basic: Upgrade £100 | Full Retail £170 | OEM full £60 Premium : Upgrade £150 | Full Retail £220 | OEM full £73 Business: Upgrade £180 | Full Retail £250 | OEM Full £95 Ultimate: Upgrade £250 | Full Retail £370 | OEM full £120

Further reading - check the comparison charts found on Microsoft and ZDNet's websites.

An excellent video overview made by CNET on the ZDNET site which you can view here

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