Retains six editions despite criticism, but says partners will be key to helping customers understand which is right for them

Microsoft: Retailers key to Windows 7 SKUs

Retailers and resellers will be key to helping customers understand which version of Windows 7 is right for them, Microsoft’s Mike Ybarra has said.

The comment from the Windows general manager came as Microsoft unveiled details of Windows 7’s various SKUs. "One change from Vista is how we will broadly communicate in the marketplace, to make these choices as simple and clear as possible for customers and partners," commented Ybarra.

Despite widespread criticism, from both consumers and retail about the large number of SKUs, Microsoft has chosen to stick with six editions.

However, Ybarra was quick point out that for most retailers and resellers, they only need to be concerned with two versions: Windows 7 Home Premium and Windows 7 Professional. "We think those two SKUs will meet most customers’ needs," he said.

"Windows 7 Home Premium is the recommended choice for consumers," explained Ybarra. "It gives them a full-function PC experience and a visually rich environment in everything from the way they experience entertainment to the way they connect their devices.

"Windows 7 Professional is the recommended choice for small businesses and for people who work at home but have to operate in an IT-managed or business environment where security and productivity are critical. For those running Windows Vista Business, it will be a very logical move to Windows 7 Professional."

The vendor also revealed that the Starter edition and Home Basic would return, though there would be heavy restrictions on their use and where they could be sold. Specifically, the Starter edition would only be available to OEMs for installation on devices of a limited capability – namely netbooks – while its Home Basic edition would be restricted to developing markets.

It also confirmed the return of its Enterprise and Ultimate editions.

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