The Supersite for Windows has managed to obtain information about the different editions of Windows Vista (previously known as “Longhorn”) that is due next year. The tentative list of editions and features is:

  • Windows Vista Starter Edition – Aimed at developing countries, Starter Edition is a bare-bones version of Windows that only allows 3 programs to run at a time. Analogous to Windows XP Starter Edition.
  • Windows Vista Home Basic Edition – Basic version of Vista upon which other editions will build on. Will not include new Aero interface. Roughly analogous to Windows XP Home Edition.
  • Windows Vista Home N Edition – In order to comply with antitrust rulings in Europe, Microsoft has released the “N” versions of Windows. Vista Home N Edition will basically be Vista Home Basic Edition but without Windows Media Player and other media features. Like the Windows XP N Editions, the Vista N Editions will only be available in Europe.
  • Windows Vista Home Premium Edition – Adds Windows XP Media Center Edition and Windows XP Tablet PC Edition functionality, plus numerous other features, to Home Basic Edition.
  • Windows Vista Professional Edition – Business operating system which will include encryption, remote desktop, and other business features. Also includes Tablet PC functionality. Roughly analogous to Windows XP Professional Edition + Windows XP Tablet PC Edition.
  • Windows Vista Professional N Edition – Vista Professional Edition without Windows Media Player, etc.
  • Windows Vista Small Business Edition – Aimed at small businesses. Based on Professional Edition and adds small business features: fax, more backup features, and possibly a security suite based on Microsoft’s OneCare. Not analogous to any XP version.
  • Windows Vista Enterprise Edition – Adds enterprise features to Professional Edition such as Virtual PC and advanced security and encryption technologies. Not analogous to any XP version.
  • Windows Vista Ultimate Edition – “Has everything.” Includes features of both the Vista Home and Professional lines. Also adds features like a game performance tweaker. Microsoft is also considering adding Ultimate Edition features and benefits such as a podcast creation utility, deluxe games, custom themes, preferred customer support, Microsoft OneCare subscriptions, free music and movie downloads, and more. Not analogous to any XP version.

Although all of these editions could cause confusion for the average consumer, the choices could benefit more knowledgeable computer users by giving them more control over what features they want in their operating system. Personally, I’d go for Windows Vista Ultimate Edition (assuming it isn’t outrageously expensive), especially if it includes a high-quality podcast creation tool. 😉

For more information on this milestone Windows Vista development, visit this Supersite for Windows article, which includes a detailed description of each edition, plus a table showing which features will be included in each edition.