Which Version of Vista Is Right For You?

Windows Vista BusinessWindows Vista Ultimate

I don’t know why it has to be this way, but leave it to Microsoft to make things confusing (I am still trying to figure out their new certification program and what direction they are heading).  Windows Vista is no different. 

If you count the different SKUs, there are 15+ different variations of Vista available worldwide (including 64bit editions).  The goal of this post is to simplify the choices and eliminate the Vista editions that probably won’t make sense for you. 

In the end, I will present you with just 2 choices … don’t you feel better already?

Vista Starter Edition

Very stripped down and only available pre-installed on computers shipping to developing countries.  Not available in the US, EU, Australia, Japan and more.  ELIMINATED

Vista "N" Editions

Designed to satisfy anti-trust agreements in the European Union.  Does not include Windows Media Player, Movie Maker and more.  "N" editions exist for Home Basic and Vista Business editions.  Same price as regular editions.  Not popular.  ELIMINATED

Vista Home Basic Edition

No domain support.  No AERO interface, no premium games, no shadow copies, no media center and much more NOT included.  Lack of domain support is a show stopper.  ELIMINATED

Vista Home Premium Edition

No domain support.  Includes everything in Home Basic plus the AERO interface, Media Center and Tablet PC support.  Not a bad option for home users but our audience consists mostly of IT students, educators and professionals … lack of domain support = ELIMINATED

Vista Enterprise

Only available to volume licensing customers (no OEM or retail).  Includes domain support and BitLocker.  You either have it (through volume licensing) or you don’t, so there is not much to "choose" here.  Because of this (and not its feature set) …ELIMINATED

Vista Business

Domain support!  Available retail or OEM (i.e. pre-installed on new computers).  Supports up to 2 CPUs, group policy, offline files, IIS, shadow copies and more.  Does not include entertainment options like Media Center, DVD Maker, Parental Controls and more.  Vista Business is a KEEPER.

Vista Ultimate

Domain support!  This version of Vista includes everything…every home and business feature is included.  Ultimate "Extras" (additional features) are also included.  More "Extras" will be added on an ongoing basis.   Vista Ultimate is a KEEPER.

The Decision – Vista Business vs. Vista Ultimate

Choosing Vista Ultimate will cost you $50-$100 more than Vista Business, depending on how you buy Vista (on a new computer, retail, etc.).  Most of these additions are entertainment related, however, there are a couple of business-oriented additions. 

Here is a more detailed look at what you get for your extra money:

  • Windows DVD Maker
  • Windows Media Center (Xbox support, Hi-Def TV support and more)
  • Themed Slide Shows
  • Parental Controls (pretty nice new feature, if you need it)
  • Windows Movie Maker
  • BitLocker Drive Encryption
  • Additional Language Support

Ultimate Extras (more will be added in the future):

  • Texas Hold ‘Em poker
  • BitLocker and EFS enhancements
  • Language Packs
  • DreamScene


For my production system I chose Vista Business edition.  I don’t need any of the media options, movie maker, ultimate extras, etc.  I have also decided not to use BitLocker on my laptop so all of the potential reasons for choosing Ultimate have been eliminated and I saved myself $50!  As always, we are here to help … let us know if you need anything.

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