Starter Edition, Home Basic Edition, Home Premium Edition, Professional Edition, Small Business Edition, Enterprise Edition and Ultimate Edition. Which edition or version of Windows will be right for you? Who the hell knows. In a greedy slap to the majority of the people in the world, Microsoft has decided to confuse the hell out of the majority of them by releasing dumbed down versions with crippled capabilities.
This is sure to piss off a whole lot of people who end up getting a disabled version that they didn't expect. Why would Microsoft do something so stupid? Well for one they are greedy and want to sell as much as they can. The second reason is that they are trying to cater to so many different uses that they figure it will simplify things by not including a lot of things in versions that Microsoft feels they won't use.
In my opinion they should just have a checklist at install of features you want to add and maybe some basic setups that automatically select those items for you in case you have no idea what you need.
ARS Technica has more on the versions.
First up, there's Starter Edition, which like XP Starter Edition, is a crippled (and lame) product aimed at the two-thirds world. It will limit users to three concurrent applications, and provide only basic TCP/IP networking, and won't be suitable for most games. The next step up is Home Basic Edition, which is really the sibling to today's Windows XP Home. However, as the name suggests, there's also Home Premium Edition, and this is where we start to split features like hairs and create a gaggle of products. HPE will build on the the Basic Edition by adding, most notably, the next-generation of Media Center capabilities, including support for HDTV, DVD authoring, and even DVD ripping backed up (of course) by Windows DRM. For non-corporate types, this is probably going to be the OS that most people use. It's similar to XP Pro in power, but with all of the added bells and whistles for entertainment. Well, most of them.
Windows Vista Professional Edition won't occupy the same spot that XP Pro occupies today, because this time it's truly aimed at businesses. It won't feature the MCE functionality that Home Premium Edition has, but it begins to provide the kind of functionality you'd expect in a business environment, such as support for non-Microsoft networking protocols and Domain support. But don't expect too many businesses to necessarily turn to PE. Microsoft is also planning both a Small Business Edition and an Enterprise Edition, which build upon pro by adding (seemingly minor) features aimed at appealing to each market. SBE, for instance, includes a networked backup solution, while EE will include things like Virtual PC integration, and the ability to encrypt an entire volume of information.
Here's what they have on the "Ultimate Edition" (what an idiotic name, what are we 12?):
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.
Tipped by: Speed of Thought