Microsoft's Vista Looms on the Horizon

By Clint Boulton | Posted February 28, 2006

If you're thinking of finally upgrading your company's PCs to Windows XP, you might want to hold off a bit longer. Microsoft just announced that it's preparing six versions of its Windows Vista operating system for mass consumption in the second half of this year.

The forthcoming load of operating systems include two for businesses, three for consumers and one starter system for what Microsoft calls "emerging markets."

Windows Vista Business targets small-to-large organizations. Highlights of this product will include a new user interface called Windows Aero, which will offer what Microsoft calls "a professional-looking, transparent-glass design," with subtle effects such as reflections and animations, and Windows Flip and Flip 3D desktop navigation features.

This product is also geared to let you search and manage enormous volumes of business documents and offers new ways to keep it all organized so you can find what you need quickly. This OS will also feature Windows Tablet PC technology with handwriting recognition software and a feature that will let you write to the computer with a digital pen or your fingertip instead of a keyboard.

Designed for large, global businesses, Windows Vista Enterprise includes everything found in Vista Business, plus it will feature Windows Bitlocker encryption technology to protect data better in the event the PC is lost or stolen. Enterprise will also let users run Unix applications. Windows Vista Enterprise will be available only to customers who have PCs covered by Microsoft Software Assurance or a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement.

For consumers with basic needs like browsing the Internet or using e-mail, Microsoft will offer Windows Vista Home Basic. The OS is designed to provide what Microsoft calls "a safer, more reliable and more productive computing environment." Features will include a new Search Explorer, Sidebar and Parental Controls.

Windows Vista Home Premium is tailored for mobile warriors, includes all features from Home Basic, and includes the Windows Aero interface and Tablet PC software. It will also integrate search throughout the operating system, helping customers pinpoint files such as pictures, movies, videos and music. Premium will also offer DVD burning and authoring to let customers burn personal videos photos and files to video or data DVDs.

Consumers who buy Premium will also be able to use Windows Media Center to record and watch TV shows and access new kinds of online entertainment content. Premium also will let users connect Windows Vista Home Premium to Xbox 360.

The third consumer OS, Windows Vista Ultimate, combines all of the business and consumer elements found in both Windows Vista Business and Windows Vista Home Premium.

For first-time PC users, Microsoft also will offer Windows Vista Starter. This entry-level software will feature a 32-bit operating system for lower-cost computers.

Six versions might seem excessive, but the Redmond, Wash., company is intent on hitting the sweet spots for an array of PC users with different needs and desires. Analysts believe having an OS for each market segment will make sure no PC user is left behind.

Adapted from Internetnews.com.

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