The coming Windows 7 tsunami: OMG which version do I get?

Just to clarify – this post is meant for all those windows users that are looking to upgrade to windows 7 when it finally hits the market. It isn’t meant for penguin lovers or apple tart fans so don’t bother with the snide comments because you are only showing how silly you are. Now – let’s move onto the point of this post.

The presales of Windows 7 have started, OEMs are gearing up new machines that will come with Vista installed but some free upgrade coupons for when Windows 7 is finally released in early fall. The question that a lot of current Windows users are going to be asking themselves is which of the three different versions should they get. I know because I’ve been asking myself the same question and thanks to Ed Bott I have a much clear idea of the route to take.

First off only a miniscule number of people are going to need the Ultimate package and chances are you aren’t in that group. I say this with some confidence knowing my own usage of Windows and the fact that 99.99999% of Windows users would be wasting their money by getting it.

This leaves picking between Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Home Premium. The decision in my opinion would have been a lot easier if Professional had been called Windows 7 Corporate because in all reality 90% of the Windows consumer market will never need the features in this version.

win7_pro_ultimate_features_small Which leaves us with the Home Premium version as the best choice for the consumer market, but to clarify the reasons why let’s have a look at what Professional brings to the table and why Home Premium will do just fine for you.

Memory: Professional supports up to 192GB of RAM whereas Home Premium supports up to 16GB of RAM. I would suggest that 16GB of RAM is more than enough for just about any home or small business use and that anymore is pretty well overkill.

Presentation Mode/Network Projector: This feature isn’t included in Home Premium and really I don’t think, outside of some rare cases, that general consumers would miss having the feature.

Encrypting File System: There are enough third party utility programs out there that if this is an important need it doesn’t mean that you need to spend the extra money for Professional. Three examples for this type of software are

TrueCrypt – free

SafeHouse Personal – $29.99

Intercrypto – CryptoExpert 2009 Professional – $59.95

Windows XP Mode: There is some confusion as to what this is but really for the most part this isn’t something that the larger consumer market is going to need. If you would like some clarification about what it is I would suggest reading Ed Bott’s post on the feature. If you to think you need it just remember that chances are you already have a legitimately licensed copy of XP so all you really need is some virtualization software. Some possible virtualization software choices you have are:

Virtual Box – free

Microsoft Windows Virtual PC – free

VMWare ESXi – free

Backup to Network: When it comes to good backup software that will provide you with all kinds of alternatives of where you can backup your disk images or data, so really this isn’t something that should be a selling point to get Professional. Some software alternatives are:

Acronis TrueImage – $49.99

GRBackPro – $59.00

An online option is Carbonite – $54.95 per year

Offline Files: With native Microsoft options like Live Mesh or Live Sync this isn’t a selling point for getting Professional.

Remote Desktop Host: Again there are more than enough third party utility programs out there that cover this so it isn’t a feature that you need to consider as a buying point of Professional. A couple of examples of available software are

Crossloop – free

TeamViewer – free

That pretty well covers any of the possible features that might make you have to make a decision about whether to get Professional or Home Premium. On the whole though I would say that for the vast majority of consumers out there the Home Premium would be the most logical choice. The other two options are pretty well overkill and won’t provide you with anything you really need to justify the price you will pay.

My thanks to Ed Bott for an excellent post clarifying the differences and for the graphic breaking down the differences.