Monday, 28 May 2007

The case against Vista Ultimate and Business editions

Two last features are only available in these editions of Windows Vista: support for 2 CPU's (two sockets) and support for more than 16GB of memory. In the context of a home user, the two should prove totally irrelevant.

Let's recap:

Bitlocker, Multilanguage support and native support for Unix based applications are the only bits that are exclusive to the Ultimate version. Of course Microsoft couldn't make it his easy on users to skip their flag OS.

Not listed as a feature is the "Ultimate extras" section of windows updates. To date here are 3 "ultimate extras" (except for the language packs of course): a poker game, enhancements for bitlocker and EFS, and Windows Dream Scene.

I'll skip the poker game part. The main Bitlocker enhancement is that you no longer need to preconfigure he harddrive in order to use Bitlocker. As to Dream Scene, I'll quote from the source:

"Your desktop background comes to life with Windows DreamScene™. When you download this Ultimate Extra, you can select a video for your desktop background the same way you select a stationary picture. You can choose one of the high-quality looping videos that we've included, or use a video from a company that produces content for DreamScene. You can even use your own video as a background."

As cool as the idea sounds, it's the most distracting piece of desktop enhancement I've ever stumbled upon.


The features available only in Ultimate and Business are heavily ITpro oriented, and might be needed if the PC is to be used to VPN to work. Might is the operational word here. My best advice is to ask your IT department. If the business is small enough that you don't have a dedicated IT department, you won't need all of this stuff.

The mobility center is one cool feature you might miss if you choose to skip Business. As to the Fax and Scan center, it is a nice centralized way of doing things, but it will only work with hardware new enough to be Vista compatible and it is only truly useful if you fax/scan a lot.



For home users the Vista version of choice should be the Premium edition. In exchange for missing out on the above described features, you get the whole Windows Media package.

Price wise, the difference between Vista Premium and Vista Ultimate, on Amazon is as follows:

OEM versions: £55 (110USD)

Upgrade versions: £68 (136USD)

Retail versions: £115 (230USD)

I have provided a link to an article that describes pretty well the limitations that go with an OEM license. In brief: either 32 or 64-bit edition on the DVD, no free 90 days support, and you might not be able to reuse it if you change your motherboard.

For the upgrade version, the only limitation is that you have to have a previous version of Windows installed. Microsoft has provided a list of available upgrade paths, which I find confusing at best and not entirely accurate when it comes to real life experience.

Retail versions: can be installed as a new OS and you get 90 days free support from MS, but only after you have activated your copy. Can also be transferred to a new PC as long as you only use it on one PC at a time.