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Microsoft confirms Vista editions after leak

Will appear towards the end of the year

A week after the information prematurely appeared on the company's website, Microsoft has officially confirmed the editions for Windows Vista.

Vista will have six core editions – four aimed at consumers and two aimed at the enterprise – said Neil Charney, Microsoft's director of Windows product management. The consumer editions are Windows Vista Starter, Windows Vista Home Basic, Windows Vista Home Premium and Windows Vista Ultimate; the business editions are Windows Vista Business and Windows Vista Enterprise.

The editions confirmed by Charney are the same ones listed on a Microsoft website last week, one the company said was being used for testing and offered "incomplete" information. The only difference between editions reported last week and the ones confirmed by Microsoft is that the starter edition – a stripped-down, low-priced version of the OS aimed at emerging markets – is branded with the Vista label. The website, which Microsoft shut down after its information appeared in published reports, said Starter would not have the Vista brand.

As expected, Microsoft plans to do away with the Windows Media Center Edition OS when it ships Vista. Instead, functionality that now is in Media Center – such as DVD playback, authoring and burning and other multimedia features – will be included in the Home Premium and Ultimate consumer editions, Charney said. Those versions will also include Tablet PC functionality, he said.

In addition, the next-generation Aero user interface will not appear in Windows Vista Starter and Home Basic. Home Premium and Ultimate are the only consumer editions with the interface, which allows users to view and flip windows in three dimensions.

All Vista editions will ship with the new Sidebar feature. Sidebar is a bar that appears on the desktop and allows user to view information, such as news, stock prices and weather, through mini-applications Microsoft calls Gadgets. In public demonstrations of the Gadgets feature, it appears similar to the Widgets feature in Apple's Mac OS X Tiger release.

All of the mainstream consumer editions will include the new parental controls security feature that allows parents to monitor their children's computer and internet use, Charney said. However, most of Vista's enhanced security features will appear in the business editions.

Both business editions will include enhanced group policy and management features. Windows Vista Enterprise will include Windows BitLocker drive and encryption, a feature that encrypts a computer's hard drive so if a notebook is lost the data will be kept private, Charney said.

In addition, the business editions will have a new Vista P2P (peer-to-peer) collaboration feature called ShareView, which allows users to connect their computers via P2P technology to share control of PowerPoint presentations.

As posted on Microsoft's website and reported last week, some editions of Vista will be released in N versions that do not include Windows Media Player 11.0, a move in compliance with European antitrust provisions. However, Charney would not confirm which editions those will be.

Microsoft plans to make Windows Vista generally available in November or December of this year.


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