Windows 7: Which Version Is Right For You?
Deciding which version of Windows 7 is the right fit depends mostly upon your environment and what you plan or need Windows 7 on your computer to do. In most cases, unless you’ve asked an IT professional for their opinion, you’ve made a trip to a retailer and purchased a new computer with Windows 7 already installed on it. And, in most of those cases you’ve gotten a computer with some version of Windows 7 Home edition pre-installed on it. For home users this is almost always a good fit, however, if you’re a small business who doesn’t happen to have a regular IT consultant and you visit your nearest retailer for a new computer unless you know to ask for something other than one of the Home editions of Windows 7, then you’re setting yourself up for trouble later down the road.
While I understand the method behind the madness of Microsoft creating so many different variations of their newest Operating System I personally believe they’re doing the consumer a great dis-service. But that’s for another time. What I want to concentrate on now are the different versions of Windows 7 so that you, the user, can make an informed decision as to which version would work best for you.
First, let me say this: No matter whether you’re going to use the computer in a business or home environment, you absolutely can’t go wrong with Windows 7 Ultimate. It has all the bells and whistles that a Home user could possibly want, plus it is every bit at home in a business environment. That being said, the most important thing to remember when considering which version of Windows 7 is right for you is where are you going to use it and what are you going to use it for?
For the masses there are three distinct flavors of Windows 7 (that is if you purchase your copy directly from Microsoft, or you know what you’re looking for. Hence this article.):
- Windows 7 Home Premium
- Windows 7 Professional
- Windows 7 Ultimate
To get a good idea of the differences between these three flavors of Windows 7 you can view the comparison at the Microsoft Windows 7 Web site.
Windows 7 Home Premium
This version of Windows 7 is good for home users that don’t have business level networking demands, although you can create a small Workgroup style network with this version of Windows 7. Home Premium is good for folks that have basic computing needs such as reaching the Internet, E-mailing friends and family, sharing photos as well as storing photos from digital cameras. It’s a good all-around Operating System for home use. It should never be used in a business environment because it is limited when it comes to certain aspects of networking and file sharing. It cannot join a Windows Active Directory Domain.
Windows 7 Professional
Windows 7 Professional is a perfect solution for a business environment. All of the networking features are enabled and it will properly and correctly work well in a Windows Workgroup or Active Directory Domain environment. This version is a no-nonsense Operating System that is specifically designed to be used in the business. While it lacks the bells and whistles of the Home Premium edition of Windows 7 it will still perform all of the same tasks, but has the added benefit of being ready to go in full blown network situations.
Windows 7 Ultimate
Clearly the best of both of the previous two, Windows 7 Ultimate will and can do it all. It’s got all the bells and whistles of the Home Premium Edition, as well as all of the networking functionality of the Professional edition, and a few features that the other two don’t have.
- Bit Locker: native hard drive/folder encryption
- App Locker: native policy driven rules which tell the Operating System what applications are allowed to run on the system. (if the application is not found in the policies then you’re prompted that an application is requesting permission to run and/or make changes to your system, otherwise it is not allowed to run.) A Very nice addition to anti-virus that should be loaded on all computers running Windows.
So, if you’re a small business looking to upgrade your current workstations with Windows 7 please consult with your IT professional first to make sure the workstations will meet the hardware requirements. If you’re looking to replace your current machines with new machines running Windows 7 make sure you’re choosing machines with Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate. If you’re a home user, Home Premium will work just fine, but you can’t go wrong with Ultimate.
Warning – Windows Home Basic
Windows 7 Home Basic is just what the name says it is: Basic. While it is functional and will get the job done as long as that job is not in a business environment, Home Basic is Ok, but it is Basic.