The bad news: Microsoft seems intent on continuing its multi-version OS strategy that began with Windows XP and became a rat's nest with Vista. The good news: most people will only ever see two of them.
According to Engadget, Microsoft has confirmed that their next OS, Windows 7, will be available in no less than 6 versions:
- Windows 7 Starter (limited to three apps concurrently)
- Windows 7 Home Basic (for emerging markets)
- Windows 7 Home Premium (adds Aero, Touch, Media Center)
- Windows 7 Professional (Remote Desktop host, Mobility Center, Presentation mode)
- Windows 7 Enterprise (volume license only, boot from virtual drive, BitLocker)
- Windows 7 Ultimate (limited availability, includes everything)
As Engadget points out, this means that the average user will end up with either Premium or Pro, and that as a result Windows Media Center will be on all but the most humble of machines.
On a related note, Ars Technica has delved into the development process that Microsoft has used in the creation of Windows 7, and explains why this time around, we can expect a cleaner and more robust product at launch than with Windows Vista.
While it's looking like Windows 7 will hit store shelves later this year, you can still join Microsoft's beta program if you're willing to install a pre-release OS on your computer. It might not be stable, but how cool will it be to show your friends what their future desktop will look like?