A leak of an updated Windows 7 beta build suggests Microsoft plans to closely follow Vista's approach of several feature-limited operating system versions. Although the publicly available beta has always suggested multiple versions by listing the software as Windows 7 Ultimate, the 7025 build gives users extra options for Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium and Business editions.
What would differentiate these versions is unknown, though Starter has in the past been aimed at the developing world and is limited to a low maximum resolution as well as no more than three simultaneous running apps. Home Basic has added those features back but strips out Aero Glass and Windows Media Center present in Home Premium, while Business allows joining Windows Server domains. Vista Ultimate has always carried the full feature set of every lower version and has also included Ultimate-only extras like DreamScene video backgrounds.
While the beta is still several months away from completion and potentially includes placeholders, the addition to the relatively stable test version suggests Microsoft is sidestepping criticism of the company's strategy for Vista, which observers have charged is potentially too confusing for buyers and which is meant to drive up the average price of Windows by pushing mainstream users to the more lucrative Home Premium edition.
By contrast, competing software such as Mac OS X Leopard is divided only into client and server versions, while Ubuntu Linux comes in one main distribution with sub-variants like Kubuntu for special conditions.