Microsoft will heavily promote two main versions of its next operating system, Windows 7, in an attempt to avoid the problems it faced in marketing multiple tiers of Windows Vista.
But while it will simplify its marketing message, Microsoft is not giving up the multi-tiered approach with Windows 7. There will still be at least six different versions of the new software, which is expected to have a full commercial launch in January 2010.
Microsoft said the primary version for consumers will be called Windows 7 Home Premium, and the main version for businesses will be called Windows 7 Professional.
Both versions will have the full Windows 7 GUI and more features than other basic versions. Prices have yet to be finalised.
In addition to these, Microsoft will sell two lower-end versions, Home Basic and Starter editions. The Home Basic edition is intended for sale in developing countries, while computer makers can install the Starter edition on PCs intended for sale anywhere in the world.
The company will also sell the high-end Enterprise version for big firms and a similar Ultimate version for consumers. These versions will include security features and other tools not available in the two main versions.
When Microsoft started selling Windows Vista in January 2007, some users buying the Home Basic version were disappointed that it lacked the full Vista user interface.
Microsoft had also run a Vista campaign with PC manufacturers under which Windows XP PCs were marketed as Vista ready. Some users were also disappointed to learn that when it came to upgrading to Vista, their machine could only handle Home Basic and not the Home Premium and Ultimate versions.
As a result, some users started an ongoing lawsuit against Microsoft.
Microsoft said the differences between the different versions of Windows 7 will be clearly communicated, and that all versions will run on increasingly popular netbooks - slimmed down PCs designed primarily for basic web functions.
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