6 – 7 versions of Windows 7 WTF?!

windows_7_graphicI wasn’t a fan of Microsoft’s decision to put out umpteen versions of Vista and I’m still not a fan of this marketing tactic in regards to Windows 7. Microsoft released details today that they will be releasing 6 versions of Windows 7 plus a an N version for the EU that will ship without Media Player installed.

According to Microsoft, the new versions try to strike a balance between complexity and what customers will actually require, but why they seem unable to accomplish this with only one version that allows the end user to only install the features they want eludes me. I take that back, it doesn’t actually elude me at all. In fact its more like the Microsoft marketing department is trying to remind us that they triumphantly wield the power to confuse the end user, and complicate the process of buying Windows. Ok so here are the proposed versions of Windows 7;

1. Windows 7 Starter
2. Windows 7 Home Premium
3. Windows 7 Professional
4. Windows 7 Enterprise
5. Windows 7 Ultimate

6. Windows 7 Home Basic will also be sold, but only to emerging markets.
7. Windows 7 N to be sold in the EU without media player.

“When you have a customer base of more than one billion, two options can’t satisfy all of their varied needs,” says Microsoft. “For that reason, we will continue to offer a few targeted SKUs for customers with specialized needs: For price-sensitive customers with small notebook PCs, some OEMs will offer Windows 7 Starter. For customers in emerging markets, we will make Windows 7 Home Basic available.

Businesses have two recommended choices: Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Enterprise. Windows 7 Professional is recommended for small businesses and Windows 7 Enterprise is recommended for mid- and large-sized businesses that have a Software Assurance Agreement with Microsoft.”

It occurs to me that one version that allowed the end user to select the features they wanted to install would also accomplish their goal of handling their customers varied needs. But that solution doesn’t address Microsoft’s needs. Those needs of course being, to be capable of selling the same software multiple times, by allowing for an upgrade process (meaning you pay them more money) by disabling features based upon licensing. Want proof? check out their plan;

Consumers will only be able to buy either Windows 7 Home Premium or Windows 7 Professional at retail—and deliberately so; Microsoft wants to try and limit consumer confusion by only putting the two versions in front of consumers.

Windows 7 Ultimate will be included on both discs, but will require a user to go through the upgrade process, either online or offline, to access them. (link)

So they are in fact saying that the complete version of windows will be on the disk that you paid for, but you can’t use it unless you pay for it again, oh sorry, I mean upgrade. I’ve used Windows for a long time, and while I don’t see that changing, I do remember the day when I was able to buy Microsoft’s desktop OS and it was a complete product. Not a product with features that were disabled or unavailable unless you paid more money.

What’s even more awesome about this plan is, Lets say you buy a low end computer with Windows 7 starter on it. You spend some money to upgrade your hardware and decide you would like to take advantage of Ultimate version. Well you can count on having to pay for 2 upgrades! Yup, you get to pay for Windows a total of 3 times in that instance! What a great value, Thanks Micro$oft!

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