Windows 7 SKU's (Not As Bad As It Seems)

Many different sources are announcing that Windows 7 will have 6 different SKU's available, and many are touting the end of Windows, because they are making the same marketing mistakes as Windows Vista.  I have a different perspective on this that I will justify after the SKU breakdown.  Here are the SKU's and features that everybody is reporting:

Windows 7 Starter

  • Available worldwide to OEMs on new PCs
  • Missing Aero UI tweaks
  • Limited to 3 simultaneous applications

Windows 7 Home Basic (Vista equivalent: $200)

  • Only available in emerging markets
  • Missing Aero UI tweaks

Windows 7 Home Premium (Vista equivalent: $260)

  • Available worldwide, to OEMs and in retail
  • Includes Aero UI tweaks
  • Features multi-touch capabilities
  • Adds "premium" games
  • Adds media capabilities (Media Center, DVD playback, DVD creation, etc.)
  • Can create home network groups

Windows 7 Professional (Vista equivalent: $300)

  • Available worldwide, to OEMs and in retail
  • Includes all features of Premium
  • Adds enhanced networking capabilities (Remote Desktop host, domain support, offline folders, etc.)
  • Adds Mobility Center
  • Adds Presentation Mode

Windows 7 Enterprise

  • Available only in volume licenses
  • Includes all features of Professional
  • Adds Branch Cache
  • Adds Direct Access
  • Adds BitLocker

Windows 7 Ultimate (Vista equivalent: $320)

  • Limited OEM and retail availability
  • Includes all features of Enterprise

Lets Break It Down

I am going to break this down, for Personal and Business users, in a couple of different ways:

  1. First by SKU.
  2. Then by who the feature set is targeted.
  3. Then by the different user segments.

The first one is based on SKU and who will likely use each SKU and the XP Equivalent of the SKU.

Personal Business XP Equivalent
Windows 7 Starter Probably only OLPC -- --
Windows 7 Home Basic You will only see this in 3rd world countries, so you will probably never see this. --
Windows 7 Home Premium Most OEM's -- Home
Windows 7 Professional -- Most OEM's Professional
Windows 7 Enterprise -- Volumne License Only --
Windows 7 Ultimate Power Users Small Businesses that want Enterprise --

So as you can see there are only a couple options available to you based on if you are a Personal or Business user.   The second break down I want to show you is who each of the feature sets is targeted at:

Personal Business
Average Joe Windows 7 Home Premium Windows 7 Professional
Power User Windows 7 Ultimate Windows 7 Enterprise

Finally, if we are to break this down even farther in to obvious user segments, and split Personal in to Average Joe and Power User, and Business in to Small Business (Average User) and Enterprise (Power User) you will see that there is really only one option available to each type of user:

Personal Business
Average Joe Power User Small Business (Average Joe) Enterprise (Power User)
Only Option Windows 7 Home Premium Windows 7 Ultimate Windows 7 Professional Windows 7 Enterprise

I actually think this is quite smart, because each market segment: Average Joe, Power User, Small Business, and Enterprise, hits a different set of criteria and a different set of requirements for each segment.  So given the above and how they will be distributed you are probably only going to see one of two different SKU's on your favorite OEM's site, which is pretty equivilent to the XP SKU's that you are use to:

Personal Business
Windows 7 Windows 7 Home Premium Windows 7 Professional
Windows XP Windows XP Home Windows XP Professional

So all in all I am pretty happy with this. I still think the marketing department could have gone with out the Starter and Home Basic versions, and privately marketed the Enterprise to Volumn License customers.  But it is what it is, and if they can keep the OEM's selling on the Home Premium and Professional version only, I think Microsoft will have a great Windows Operating System both in perception and technically.  And we can all forget about the last 2 years of Windows Vista, sort of like we have done for Windows ME.

Nick Berardi

In charge of Cloud Drive Desktop at @Amazon, Entrepreneur, Microsoft MVP, ASPInsider, co-founder and CTO of @CaddioApp, Father, and @SeriouslyOpen host