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Which Edition of Windows 7 Do I Need?
Are you trying to figure out which version of Windows 7 to buy? Microsoft made it easy to determine which version of Windows XP you needed because they only had two versions: Home for home users and Professional for business users. Then with Windows Vista Microsoft decided to break it up into six different versions which does make it quite confusing. Windows 7 still has six product editions so it is quite difficult for the average person to determine which edition of Windows 7 they need.
We will look at the six different editions of Windows 7 and list their price as well as hardware requirements. We will also look at whether you need a 32-bit or 64-bit edition.
Windows 7 Starter
This edition is not available for retail sale. It is bundled with new low end computers such as Netbooks. Microsoft imposes strict requirements for hardware manufacturers to follow so it is rarely used on anything other than Netbooks. This edition is only available in
Windows 7 Home Basic
This edition is not available for retail sale either. It is designed for low-end PCs in emerging markets like India and China.
Windows 7 Home Premium
Windows 7 Home Premium is the edition that over 90% of people should buy. It comes preinstalled on most new computers now that are designed for home use. It is available in both 32-bit and 64-bit editions. The retail price is $199 for the full version and $119 for the upgrade version. If you already have a version of Windows on your computer like Windows XP then you qualify for the upgrade version. Windows 7 Home Premium includes support for the Aero interface which makes your windows have transparent borders and a lot of other nice visual features. Windows 7 Home Premium includes Windows Media Center to help you play a wide variety of multimedia formats (including DVD) and there’s a built-in DVD maker to create DVD movies or for burning files and disk images to CD, DVD, and Blu-ray disks directly from Windows Explorer.
Windows 7 Professional
Windows 7 Professional is designed for business users and is available for retail sale. Most consumers should avoid this version because it costs quite a bit more than Home Premium but you do not get much more functionality. It is available in both 32-bit and 64-bit editions. The retail price is $299 for the full version and $199 for the upgrade version.
Windows 7 Enterprise
Windows 7 Enterprise is not available for retail sale. It is only available to business customers with enterprise licensing agreements, typically large corporations. The feature set is the same as Windows 7 Ultimate.
Windows 7 Ultimate
Windows 7 Ultimate has all the available features that Windows 7 has to offer. It is also the most expensive at $319 for the full version and $219 for the upgrade version. The only compelling reason to purchase Windows 7 Ultimate over Home Premium is the drive encryption that is included called Bit Locker. Bit Locker encrypts all the files on your hard drive so that if someone steals your computer they will not be able to read any of your files.
32-Bit or 64-Bit
If you are unsure about what type of hardware your computer has you should go with the 32-bit version because the 32-bit version will work on any computer while the 64-bit version will only work on 64-bit computers. The only advantage the 64-bit offers you is more memory support. 32-bit versions of Windows 7 support 3 GB of RAM which is sufficient for most tasks. If you are into video editing and gaming then you will probably want to get the 64-bit version if your hardware will support it.
- 1GHz or faster CPU
- 1GB of RAM for 32-bit, 2GB of RAM for 64-bit
- 16GB of available hard drive space for 32-bit, 20GB for 64-bit
- DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver
For the vast majority of people Windows 7 Home Premium Upgrade will be the best choice. It offers the features that most people need at a great price.