Quick guide to Microsoft Windows 7 versions

The Christmas season is fast approaching and a lot of people are thinking about buying or upgrading their PCs. But most people seem to forget that they also need an OS on their new system and looking at the Microsoft Windows 7 versions list it can get very confusing sometimes.

So, I decided to make a post specially dedicated to the people who don’t really know what the best Windows version for their needs is.

Some of you might say that the choice is very simple, just buy the one with the most features, but you see, that has it’s drawbacks. Most of the features you, as a normal everyday user, will probably never use and have also probably never heard about them or know what they do.  

You also need to consider the fact that all those extra features add extra services to the OS witch have to be started every time you use your system and that of course eats up a lot of resources witch you could use elsewhere.
The Christmas season is fast approaching and a lot of people are thinking about buying or upgrading their PCs. But most people seem to forget that they also need an OS on their new system and looking at the Microsoft Windows 7 versions list it can get very confusing sometimes.

So, I decided to make a post specially dedicated to the people who don’t really know what the best Windows version for their needs is.

Some of you might say that the choice is very simple, just buy the one with the most features, but you see, that has it’s drawbacks. Most of the features you, as a normal everyday user, will probably never use and have also probably never heard about them or know what they do.  

You also need to consider the fact that all those extra features add extra services to the OS witch have to be started every time you use your system and that of course eats up a lot of resources witch you could use elsewhere.

Here’s a table of all the main features the Windows 7 suit has:

Features Starter Home Basic Home Premium Professional Enterprise Ultimate
OEM licensing Retail and OEM licensing in Emerging markets Retail and OEM licensing Retail, OEM and Volume licensing Volume licensing Retail and OEM licensing
End of Support January 13, 2015;4 years’ time (2015-01-13) January 13, 2015;4 years’ time (2015-01-13) January 13, 2015;4 years’ time (2015-01-13) January 14, 2020;9 years’ time (2020-01-14) January 14, 2020;9 years’ time (2020-01-14) January 13, 2015;4 years’ time (2015-01-13)
Maximum physical memory (RAM) (64-bit mode) N/A 8 GB 16 GB 192 GB 192 GB 192 GB
Maximum physical memory (RAM) (32-bit mode) 2 GB 4 GB 4 GB 4 GB 4 GB 4 GB
32-bit and 64-bit versions 32-bit only Both (64-bit disc not included) Both Both Both Both
Maximum physical CPUs supported 1 1 1 2 2 2
Backup and Restore Center Cannot back up to network Cannot back up to network Cannot back up to network Yes Yes Yes
Remote Desktop (Client and Host) Client only Client only Client only Yes Yes Yes
HomeGroup (create and join) Join only Join only Yes Yes Yes Yes
Built-in DVD (MPEG-2 and Dolby Digital) decoders No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Multiple monitors No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fast user switching No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Desktop Window Manager No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Windows Mobility Center No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Network printing No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Internet connection sharing No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Windows Aero No Partial Yes Yes Yes Yes
Multi-Touch No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Premium Games Included No No Yes Not installed by default Not installed by default Yes
Windows Media Center No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Windows Media Player Remote Media Experience No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Dynamic Disks No No No Yes Yes Yes
Encrypting File System No No No Yes Yes Yes
Location Aware Printing No No No Yes Yes Yes
Presentation Mode No No No Yes Yes Yes
Group Policy No No No Yes Yes Yes
Offline Files and Folder redirection No No No Yes Yes Yes
Windows Server domain joining No No No Yes Yes Yes
Windows XP Mode No No No Yes Yes Yes
Software Restriction Policies No No No Yes Yes Yes
Aero glass remoting No No No No Yes Yes
Windows Media Player multimedia redirection No No No No Yes Yes
Audio recording over Terminal Services No No No No Yes Yes
Multi-display Terminal Services No No No No Yes Yes
Enterprise Search Scopes No No No No Yes Yes
Federated Search No No No No Yes Yes
AppLocker No No No Create Policies, But Cannot Enforce Create and Enforce Policies Create and Enforce Policies
BitLocker Drive Encryption No No No No Yes Yes
BranchCache Distributed Cache No No No No Yes Yes
DirectAccess No No No No Yes Yes
Subsystem for Unix-based Applications No No No No Yes Yes
Multilingual User Interface Pack No No No Yes, purchased separately Yes Yes
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) Enhancements No No No No Yes Yes
Virtual Hard Disk Booting No No No No Yes Yes
English Retail 7600 SHA-1 32-bit 5DC1 457B C4B3 D940 97F4 99B1 5DFD B3C2 1DAD CDF5 1015 74FA A17F DB43 0BB0 2727 1EF0 A58F 0E18 AD47 CC9D 8220 B217 9E78 4D85 BF1E A98D 2EE2 190D 534F 697F A065 5450 2FB2 1D30 2752 73B2 5747 299C 020D C6B9 05E4 8FDB 6CB5 BFCA 9677 15A6 4461 B812 D40C 5395 DC4B 38F7 BDB1 E005 FF41 4DEE DFDB 16DB F610
English Retail 7600 SHA-1 64-bit 3367 79EA 6B65 F63E 11A6 09B4 D021 439C 47AB 315B 5012 7304 441A 793E E51B 3F50 1289 F659 9A55 9E9F A89D CE70 6D52 7206 CB46 4EF8 6ACD 3A3D 13A3 32DB 3263 27CC 2FF9 F053 79F5 058C 41BE 6BC5 E004 BAA7
Starter Home Basic Home Premium Professional Enterprise Ultimate

Now, based on the above chart (special thanks to Wikipedia) you can select a version with relative ease considering what you will actually do on you PC.

For the average home user, who just plays some music, video, internet browsing and some gaming, I would strongly recommend 7 Home Premium. It has all the features you would expect and need and it also has the aero theme so it will look just like any of the superior versions.

If on the other hand you are a hard core gamer or really need a lot of performance, let’s say for work, then Professional is more suited for you, because it has added CPU abilities, can use more RAM, even dough 16gb of Home Premium are more than enough, and of course it has XP mode witch is really useful in some work environments (suitable for some older software).

The Enterprise and Ultimate versions, are just as the name implies, for businesses and people who really need all those extra features for advanced networking and security.

The extra features and functionality all come at a cost and that’s why each of these versions has a different price. The price also depends if you get the OEM or retail version. For the exact prices for every version you could check out Amazon and just search for the version you like.

The Retail version can be reinstalled later on another PC if you decide you want to upgrade to a faster model, where as the OEM is locked to one motherboard, so only one PC. This is a part worth taking in consideration, because if for some reason you motherboard has a malfunction you not only will have to change the motherboard but also buy a new license for the OS.

Here’s a table of all the main features the Windows 7 suit has:

Features Starter Home Basic Home Premium Professional Enterprise Ultimate
OEM licensing Retail and OEM licensing in Emerging markets Retail and OEM licensing Retail, OEM and Volume licensing Volume licensing Retail and OEM licensing
End of Support January 13, 2015;4 years’ time (2015-01-13) January 13, 2015;4 years’ time (2015-01-13) January 13, 2015;4 years’ time (2015-01-13) January 14, 2020;9 years’ time (2020-01-14) January 14, 2020;9 years’ time (2020-01-14) January 13, 2015;4 years’ time (2015-01-13)
Maximum physical memory (RAM) (64-bit mode) N/A 8 GB 16 GB 192 GB 192 GB 192 GB
Maximum physical memory (RAM) (32-bit mode) 2 GB 4 GB 4 GB 4 GB 4 GB 4 GB
32-bit and 64-bit versions 32-bit only Both (64-bit disc not included) Both Both Both Both
Maximum physical CPUs supported 1 1 1 2 2 2
Backup and Restore Center Cannot back up to network Cannot back up to network Cannot back up to network Yes Yes Yes
Remote Desktop (Client and Host) Client only Client only Client only Yes Yes Yes
HomeGroup (create and join) Join only Join only Yes Yes Yes Yes
Built-in DVD (MPEG-2 and Dolby Digital) decoders No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Multiple monitors No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fast user switching No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Desktop Window Manager No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Windows Mobility Center No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Network printing No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Internet connection sharing No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Windows Aero No Partial Yes Yes Yes Yes
Multi-Touch No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Premium Games Included No No Yes Not installed by default Not installed by default Yes
Windows Media Center No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Windows Media Player Remote Media Experience No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Dynamic Disks No No No Yes Yes Yes
Encrypting File System No No No Yes Yes Yes
Location Aware Printing No No No Yes Yes Yes
Presentation Mode No No No Yes Yes Yes
Group Policy No No No Yes Yes Yes
Offline Files and Folder redirection No No No Yes Yes Yes
Windows Server domain joining No No No Yes Yes Yes
Windows XP Mode No No No Yes Yes Yes
Software Restriction Policies No No No Yes Yes Yes
Aero glass remoting No No No No Yes Yes
Windows Media Player multimedia redirection No No No No Yes Yes
Audio recording over Terminal Services No No No No Yes Yes
Multi-display Terminal Services No No No No Yes Yes
Enterprise Search Scopes No No No No Yes Yes
Federated Search No No No No Yes Yes
AppLocker No No No Create Policies, But Cannot Enforce Create and Enforce Policies Create and Enforce Policies
BitLocker Drive Encryption No No No No Yes Yes
BranchCache Distributed Cache No No No No Yes Yes
DirectAccess No No No No Yes Yes
Subsystem for Unix-based Applications No No No No Yes Yes
Multilingual User Interface Pack No No No Yes, purchased separately Yes Yes
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) Enhancements No No No No Yes Yes
Virtual Hard Disk Booting No No No No Yes Yes
English Retail 7600 SHA-1 32-bit 5DC1 457B C4B3 D940 97F4 99B1 5DFD B3C2 1DAD CDF5 1015 74FA A17F DB43 0BB0 2727 1EF0 A58F 0E18 AD47 CC9D 8220 B217 9E78 4D85 BF1E A98D 2EE2 190D 534F 697F A065 5450 2FB2 1D30 2752 73B2 5747 299C 020D C6B9 05E4 8FDB 6CB5 BFCA 9677 15A6 4461 B812 D40C 5395 DC4B 38F7 BDB1 E005 FF41 4DEE DFDB 16DB F610
English Retail 7600 SHA-1 64-bit 3367 79EA 6B65 F63E 11A6 09B4 D021 439C 47AB 315B 5012 7304 441A 793E E51B 3F50 1289 F659 9A55 9E9F A89D CE70 6D52 7206 CB46 4EF8 6ACD 3A3D 13A3 32DB 3263 27CC 2FF9 F053 79F5 058C 41BE 6BC5 E004 BAA7
Starter Home Basic Home Premium Professional Enterprise Ultimate

Now, based on the above chart (special thanks to Wikipedia) you can select a version with relative ease considering what you will actually do on you PC.

For the average home user, who just plays some music, video, internet browsing and some gaming, I would strongly recommend 7 Home Premium. It has all the features you would expect and need and it also has the aero theme so it will look just like any of the superior versions.

If on the other hand you are a hard core gamer or really need a lot of performance, let’s say for work, then Professional is more suited for you, because it has added CPU abilities, can use more RAM, even dough 16gb of Home Premium are more than enough, and of course it has XP mode witch is really useful in some work environments (suitable for some older software).

The Enterprise and Ultimate versions, are just as the name implies, for businesses and people who really need all those extra features for advanced networking and security.

The extra features and functionality all come at a cost and that’s why each of these versions has a different price. The price also depends if you get the OEM or retail version. For the exact prices for every version you could check out Amazon and just search for the version you like.

The Retail version can be reinstalled later on another PC if you decide you want to upgrade to a faster model, where as the OEM is locked to one motherboard, so only one PC. This is a part worth taking in consideration, because if for some reason you motherboard has a malfunction you not only will have to change the motherboard but also buy a new license for the OS.

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