Windows 7
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Which version of Windows 7 is right for you?

With the release of every new Operating System –Microsoft has increased the number of product editions. Windows XP was released in 2 editions and Vista had over 9 different editions (double the number if you consider 64 bit versions as a separate edition).

Windows 7 on the other hand has clearly defined the differences in the various editions and thus we get a total of 5 different Windows 7 editions to choose from – Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise/Ultimate.

(Enterprise and Ultimate are same products – If you have a corporate license –it’s called Enterprise edition, but If an individual purchases it – it’s called the Ultimate edition)

That makes things much easier as compared to Vista, but you still need to carefully evaluate the features from different editions to make the right decision.

Windows 7 Editions In A Nutshell:

The Windows 7 Editions are available in 5 editions as stated above. Four of these editions have both 32 and 64-bit versions (we would look at the differences below). That takes the total to 9 versions. Luckily most people need to concern themselves with just 3 versions.

Here we describe the editions in a nutshell.

1) Windows 7 Starter Edition: It’s a limited feature version that is available pre-installed only on netbooks. It doesn’t support the Aero Glass interface or let you change your desktop background wallpaper (Ouch!).

The Windows 7 Starter edition does not allow automatic network based backups. Other features that are missing – Media Center, Sticky Notes, Snipping Tool. This edition was aimed at Netbooks, to keep the pricing on the lower side.

2) Windows 7 Home Basic: This version is available only in developing/emerging countries and not available in US, Europe or other developed regions.

This was aimed at regions where the price of a full-blown OS would be expensive. The feature set is limited but better than the Starter edition.

3) Windows 7 Home Premium: When you buy a new computer with Windows 7 – chances are this edition would be pre-installed on your PC. It includes all the new features in Windows 7, however there are a couple of features missing.

You don’t get the Remote desktop Connection option with this edition. Another feature missing is the automatic backups of your computer over the network. (See Table Below)

4) Windows 7 Professional: This version of Windows 7 includes everything in Home Premium plus the ability to back up your computer over a network, Remote desktop connection. Other important feature included is “Encryption File System & BitLocker”. (Check Table Below)

5) Windows 7 Enterprise/Ultimate: These two versions are the same, with different names. If it’s used in corporate environment, it’s called the Enterprise edition and on personal computers it called Ultimate.

It has all the features of Windows 7 editions described above and adds some unique features of its own inclusion of all the language packs, Branch-Cache and the ability to use a VHD (virtual hard drive).

Features Availability in Each Edition:

From the overview you can understand the basic differences between the different editions, but to make an informed decision – we find that a feature comparison chart make a world of difference, since you get a bird eye view about what would be available in the specific edition you select.

If you are anything like me – you would want to scrutinize the features you would go for before you decide which OS you would be using for the next few years. The tables below classify the features in specific categories and show how the different editions stack up against each other – This would make the decision making process a lot easier.

Windows 7 Editions - User Interface Features:

User Interface Features in Different Windows 7 Editions

Windows Feature

Home

Premium

Professional

Ultimate/Enterprise

Aero Snap

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Jump Lists

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Live Preview (Windows Explorer)

NA

Yes

Yes

Yes

Live Taskbar Previews

NA

Yes

Yes

Yes

Windows Aero Glass effects

NA

Yes

Yes

Yes

Windows Aero UI

NA

Yes

Yes

Yes

Windows Flip

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Windows Flip 3D

NA

Yes

Yes

Yes

Windows Search

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Aero Peek

NA

Yes

Yes

Yes

Windows 7 Editions - Safety, Security & Reliability Features:

Security and Reliability Features in different Windows 7 Editions.

Windows Feature

Home

Premium

Professional

Ultimate/Enterprise

Action Center

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Automatic Defragmentation

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Backup and Restore

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Backup To Network

NA

NA

Yes

Yes

BitLocker

NA

NA

NA

Yes

Encryption File System (EFS)

NA

NA

Yes

Yes

Fast User Switching

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Parental Controls

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Previous Versions

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

System Image

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

User Account Control

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Use Virtual Hard Drive (VHD)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Windows Backup

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Windows Defender

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Windows Firewall

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Windows 7 Performance Features:

Various Performance features in Different Windows 7 Editions

Windows Feature

Home

Premium

Professional

Ultimate/Enterprise

64-bit Support

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Max RAM (32-bit)

4GB

4GB

4GB

4GB

Max RAM (64-bit)

8GB

16GB

192GB

192GB

Physical Processor Support

1

2

2

2

Startup Repair

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

SuperFetch

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

System Restore

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Windows Anytime Upgrade

Yes

Yes

NA

NA

Windows Easy Transfer

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Windows Experience Index

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Windows Readyboost

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Windows ReadyDrive

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Windows 7 Editions - Networking Features:

Various Networking related features in different Windows 7 Editions

Windows Feature

Home

Premium

Professional

Ultimate/Enterprise

Connect to a Projector

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

HomeGroup Sharing

Join Only

Yes

Yes

Yes

IIS Web Server Support

NA

Yes

Yes

Yes

Internet Connection Sharing (ICS)

NA

Yes

Yes

Yes

Network and Sharing Center

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Network Bridge

NA

Yes

Yes

Yes

Offline files

NA

NA

Yes

Yes

Remote Desktop Connetion

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Remote Desktop Host

NA

NA

Yes

Yes

SMB Connections

20

20

20

20

The 32-bit or 64-bit Windows 7 edition dilemma:

If you finalize a specific version of Windows 7 after checking out the features in the tables above, you still need to decide whether to go for the 32-Bit or 64-Bit editions.

These two editions look and feel the same on the surface, but a lot differs when it comes to performance on your machine. The 64-Bit edition can use a lot more memory on your machine, whereas the 32-Bit is limited to a 4GB of RAM access. 64-Bit is the future – every computer in 5 years down the line would be using a 64-Bit OS.

However, you may want to stick to a 32-bit version if you are currently upgrading an older machine. This is important since – older hardware doesn’t have drivers to support 64-Bit operations. On the other hand, if your computer is brand new it makes much more sense to go for a 64-Bit version.

Will 64-Bit Version Work On My PC?

Still can’t make up your mind? Well we have a solution for that.

Go to SecurAble site and download the SecurAble program. Read the instruction on the page before running it on your machine. This program tells you if your current hardware can support the 64-Bit version.

You can also use the Official Windows Upgrade Advisor to get an idea about which version to go for. You can access it here.

Windows 7 Minimum System Requirements: