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Last Updated: Monday, 27 February 2006, 11:26 GMT
Microsoft unveils Vista editions
Bill Gates, AP
Bill Gates talked about Vista at the Consumer Electronics Show

Microsoft is planning six versions of the next incarnation of its Windows operating system.

Three versions of the software, called Vista, will be for home users, two will be for businesses and one will be for emerging markets.

One of the home versions of Vista will include features that let users store and play back TV shows.

No fixed date has been given for the release of Vista but it is expected to be launched by the end of 2006.

Launch line-up

Vista, which was known as Longhorn during its long development, is a major re-working of Windows that makes changes, among other things, to the way the operating system looks and how it handles networking and sound.

Microsoft said the six versions were designed to match the demands different users have for its software. No details have been given about the pricing of the separate versions.

Vista Business
Vista Enterprise
Vista Home Basic
Vista Home Premium
Vista Ultimate
Vista Starter
Vista Business will be the basic version for companies of all sizes and includes tools that will help organisations manage their PCs.

The Enterprise version of Vista will have all of the features in the basic version and add to them improved encryption including a BitLocker system that will stop confidential data being viewed if a computer is lost or stolen.

The Home Basic version is intended for those who only want to use their PC to browse the net, use e-mail and create and edit basic documents. It will also include desktop search and security tools.

Vista Home Premium includes everything in the Basic version and adds the new graphical interface called Aero.

Microsoft said it will also have improved media handling abilities so it can help users organise and enjoy their digital images, music and movie collections. Also included will be tools to help people author and burn DVDs.

PCs running the Premium edition will also be able to connect their machine to an Xbox 360 gaming console.

Vista Ultimate has all the features of the business and home editions in one package.

The Starter edition is a streamlined version intended for low powered PCs found in many developing nations.

Also available will be versions made specifically for Europe that, in accordance with an EU mandate, remove the Windows media player.

Microsoft pointed out that the current version of Windows, XP, is available in six different versions though most of these are tuned for the different types of hardware, such as a Tablet PC, people are using.

By contrast Vista versions are organised by what people plan to do with their computer.

"We don't want customers to be forced into buying something that isn't going to meet all their needs," said Barry Goffe, Microsoft's director of Windows client product management.

Have you had any experience of Microsoft Vista software? Have you seen any previews? Send us your experiences using the form below:

The views published below reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

I've tried a number of preview versions of this operating system, and as an experienced user of many different systems, I am unimpressed. Very few of the originally specified improvements to Windows have actually happened, and the version of Vista we are going to end up with is a pale shadow of that it might have been were Microsoft more organized. Also, none of the major new features are particularly revolutionary, and very few will make a large difference to how most people use their computers. It is good to see better security features being incorporated into the newer versions of Windows, but they are features that could (and should) simply be an update to existing software, not touted as a completely new approach.
Dom Main, Shrewsbury, UK.

I've found it very difficult to install Windows Vista. A lot of my hardware does not work due to the lack of compatible drivers. Microsoft still have some time left to sort things out.
Paul Grave, Leeds, UK

This version will revolutionise office work
Ben Morris, Westbury, Wiltshire
I have been using windows Vista for a few months now. The latest release (5308.11) is a vast improvement on the previous versions. I find that Vista is very good eye-candy, and has great functionality. The latest version is also very stable. I am an IT professional by trade and think this version will revolutionise office work. Very customisable but also very secure. One concern is that hardware will have to be upgraded to cope with the resource this operating system needs. I have found most of my applications work fine, but I am having problems gaming. Drivers are also a concern right now, and more manufacturers need to release more Beta drivers. Overall, not a bad operating system at all.
Ben Morris, Westbury, Wiltshire

I have used the beta version of this (not the finished one) and, yes, it does look good and that should please a lot of people, but is it a major leap from XP? No, is the quick answer. Everybody is used to XP and we are only changing because we will be forced to, so it's a real catch-22 situation.
Lee Woods, Rotherham

Recently, (24 Feb.), Microsoft held previews of Vista at the University of Pittsburgh; the representative spotlighted many of the new (to Microsoft) features that are inherent in IE v7, the new Office, and several betas of features within the OS itself. Highlighted were the revised search engine (integrated within the OS to search both the PC and the Web for the search term), the "Sync Center" (which applies to more than just the users media player, but also their online documents and projects, and will serve as a replacement to Microsoft Briefcase), and the concept of "blurring the line" between what content is on- and off-line.
Z. Douglas, Pittsburgh, PA; USA

I have used a Vista preview. The overlay feature where it is see-through to the window behind is deeply infuriating. It is highly annoying as it can be rather confusing.
Thomas, Uppingham

With over eight months of development left of course its going to be buggy
James, Manchester
You all criticise Vista for speed, security and stability but are all forgetting that it is still in BETA and with over eight months of development left of course its going to be buggy. I have used a few builds of Vista and have been very impressed. From a developers point of view life it going to be made much easier and thankfully the nice-bits (WPF and WCF specifically) are making their way to XP enabling backwards compatibility with fantastic new technologies. As for third party software, don't expect anything yet. As stated earlier, it is still in Beta (although technically not even Beta since we are between Beta 1 and Beta 2 with the current February CTP) so anything published by any manufacturers is not going to be Vista compatible.
James, Manchester

I have been testing Windows Vista (formally Longhorn) since its early builds! Unfortunately, they had to start again, but ever since they did, performance increased, but everything else went downhill in my opinion. Sidebar is good, but they should bring back things like tiles rather than having gadgets. I will upgrade eventually, but I am not really looking forward to the Vista transition period.
David Rochester, Southend-on-Sea

Coming from the perspective of a network engineer, I am not looking forward to its release. First off... we will not touch it until MS released their first service pack. Mainly, this is a general rule across the security board. Second off, where did they move everything to, and to what did they rename everything to? I got Vista going on my laptop, along with XP pro, and slackware 10.2. When I wanna check my email really quick, I hop on a hibernated image of XP Pro; when I wanna really play around, I hop on slackware... when I want a headache, I hop on Vista. Resource hog, no joke! What Am I Looking Foward To? Getting MacOSx working on my laptop!
Jordan Castoro, Pennsylvania, PA, USA

Personally, I have tested out vista myself. I was impressed when I saw the quality of the interface. I was anxious for them to roll out more of the beta version. But there will always be compatibility issues with software. I am disappointed now that there will be different versions of the OS. I am very disappointed that the unfortunate people will be left behind with the cooler versions of the OS like the Aero. I am also very disappointed that they are not including the full bundle for everyone... Bad choice there, Microsoft. Of course these are my comments, your comments may differ from mine and that's why we are who we are.
Uday, NJ, USA

This will cause confusion for those of us who just want 'Windows'
R. McLay, Edinburgh, Scotland
I'm a network consultant and have used many Windows Vista pre-release versions. I feel Microsoft are making a big mistake by doing so many versions of the OS. They should be sticking to Home & Pro. I also think that this will cause confusion for those of us who just want 'Windows'. As other posts have said, the system is resource hungry and slow, and IE7 is just Microsoft's FireFox. On my 2.6GHz machine, it took 3 hours to install. Im sticking with Linux Servers, and My Mac & XP Pro desktops which all do the Samba.
R. McLay, Edinburgh, Scotland

I've tried the Vista beta at work. If my employer insisted upon my using it at work, I would do so. However, I will continue to use Ubuntu Linux at home. Vista just isn't good enough.
Matthew Graybosch, Waterbury, United States

I've tried Vista, and I have not seen anything that hasn't been done for years now in other operating systems... and in some cases better. Anyone considering paying for Vista would do well to try Ubuntu or another flavour of Linux first.
K.Mandla, U.S.

I tried it out for a week or so. The interface looks too much like Mac. It's too resource hungry and ran slow on my computer (I have 2gb ram, 3.6Ghz Intel CPU) compared to Linux (but I hadn't expected it to, either). I had huge problems with getting internet up and running with wireless. And, well, I wouldn't switch from XP to vista. What they need to do is start thinking in more minimal ways!
Olav, Moss, Norway

Why give the RAM to the OS, when I can give to the render machine?
Alexandru Sinov, Brasov, Romania
I have tried several versions of Vista on my home computer; which is about 6 months old. I have to say it ran pretty OK, but quite a resource hog. I have 2 GB RAM, and it occupied at least 700-800 MB. I'm in the graphics business, and I use a lot of Maya and similar programs. So in terms of productivity, I'd stick with XP. Why give the RAM to the OS, when I can give to the render machine?
Alexandru Sinov, Brasov, Romania

After reviewing Vista, it does seem to have its benefits. Most users will be happy with the improvements to the interfacing (better, easier, cleaner, structured filing) and cleaner graphics. Microsoft still will need to implement new measures though to keep up with Security demands and should eventually release covert programs like MONAD. Microsoft needs to let the graphical market settle down briefly to catch up on their security foundation.
Jason Baker, Toronto, Canada

Wow, what a difference! From the bits I have played with, it looks very interesting, with some exciting "extras". Its all looking a bit to Mac like for me though!
Mike, Warwickshire, UK

As usual, Windows are five years behind the equivalent MacOS. I've seen the beta test release for windows vista, and my impression was a cluttered and restricted operating system - fine for the 'Fischer Price' users who want to write a word document. Another nail in the MS coffin.
Laurence, Bath, UK

Just playing catch-up to Apple, IMHO
James Bourne, Sydney, Australia
I've been working with the 64-bit builds of Vista Ultimate Edition for the last 3-4 months. Nice GUI (almost Mac like), spruced up command line, but big (3.7GB download), needs at least 10GB of hard disk. It's slow, the GUI really slows things down as well as all the UAC (User Account Control) asking me every minute whether I'm actually allowed to run application A or application B. The Windows Defender is missing antivirus, but who needs that dreadful piece of intrusive software? Overall, looks promising but not really revolutionary - just playing catch-up to Apple, IMHO. I'll stick with Windows XP x64 for now...
James Bourne, Sydney, Australia

As a software developer with a major company, I have had the chance to get to know the beta version of Vista very well. I must say it is an improvement over XP. The five or six different editions is obviously an attempt to spread the targets of virus writers, but will surely confuse Joe Public. I have to use Microsoft, since that is what most business companies use, so I programme software which run on it. However at home my wife, kids and I use Mac OSX, which is way better. Vista has not tempted me to change the home computer - and the kids are happy with their Nintendo and Sony game centres. Vista will not bring Microsoft into my home (except on my work laptop!)
Al "Bert" Reay, Southampton, UK

Tried Vista and had a play around with it. It installed without a hitch considering that most manufacturers have not released drivers for it yet. Seemed pretty stable and managed to get almost everything I wanted working on it like a charm! I think that I might be inclined to go for the Ultimate package, that said. I do not like the idea of having some of the restrictions such as in the Home edition of Windows XP.
Gabriel Asseily, London, UK

I have been able to see a recent Beta build of Vista. While I'm not sure what versions it may reflect, I was most impressed by the desktop wallpaper. Nothing immediately stood out as being extraordinary.
Andrew Haberbosch, Tucson, AZ

A lot of bugs in it but that was the Beta version I was using. Had a very meta- look and feel and, to be honest, was just a jazzed up version of XP
John Holland, Prestwick

I have a friend who was a beta tester of Longhorn. He ran it on his laptop. He even got a copy of the final Ultimate Edition. Frankly, I was highly disappointed. This was because it was difficult to get used to, some of the icons etc were awkwardly setup, the general setup required a lot of processing power and RAM and, worst of all, I found out it will cost in the region of 350-600 Stirling (no fixed price yet)
Harry Borovick, London, England

I am staying with XP, it is pretty stable
Adrian Symonds, Hereford, England
I saw a beta 2 version of Vista a few weeks back, to be honest, I do not think it is worth giving up Windows XP for. Microsoft will bloat out vista more, and it do not matter what version you get, I expect the computer will still run slower, forcing an upgrade. DRM is also a problem, too much DRM rubbish is pushed into Windows. Soon, we will not be able to use our computer, unless Microsoft, record labels or film studios give us permision. I am staying with XP, it is pretty stable most of the time and it does everything I want, I do not see the point in paying out for Vista, if you have already got XP, mind you if I could get the software I wanted, I would move to Linux, a less bloated operating system and more secure.
Adrian Symonds, Hereford, England

I have installed beta 1 of Vista on a very high spec PC, and quite frankly it is pretty awful! There were no third party device drivers for my graphics adapter (ok, but the MS drivers crashed my PC all the time and I had to use the minimum settings). Internet Explorer 7: Mozilla Firefox or Opera have all the same features and have been available for a great deal of time. IE 7 is ok, but Firefox is better and less prone to problems because it does not have the word Microsoft on the package. Vista is very resource-hungry and as such on a machine more than ten months old will be very slow. With Windows XP, I would not use or install Windows Vista until Service Pack 1 is released.
Stuart Grier, Kilmarnock

I tried the Vista beta 30-day trial that was given out by Microsoft at a preview. This was the last beta released, my version included Aero, and the trial installed but did not work. It put my PC into a 'boot loop' where vista started up, then blue-screened with a fatal error, crashing over and over on its own. I tried to start up in safe mode but no joy, I believe this was because I did not have one of the hefty 3D graphic cards which was needed by Vista, users should be aware they might have to buy a whole new PC or invest in a hefty 3D graphics card to get it to work and benefit from the new Aero display mode. Also, data for minimum spec is sketchy from MS, but machines over a few years old or with 1 gig of memory are going to struggle.
Garry, Birmingham, West Mildands

I have had one of the early builds installed. When I plugged in an Ethernet cable to access the internet for the first time, it would not let me get an IP address. After several attempts to mess with the networking features, it just magically decided to get an IP out of nowhere...5 minutes later. Then, after finally being able to communicate to the net, I went to launch internet explorer and it crashed upon trying to load the msn website. After going in and changing the home page, it worked fine, but as soon as you try msn's website, the browser crashes.
Hardware, California, USA

I think that MS is trying to set the word alight with the new Vista - but my thoughts are the same as the first time I ran the Vista BETA: "Shouldn't Windows XP have been like when it was released?" Microsoft insiders complain that not enough users have migrated from Windows 2000 to XP. I think MS will have an even greater problem with the new O/S. No doubt it will cost as much (if not more) than XP does now, too. That's a little too rich for most people's blood. It will be interesting to see, as I thought XP's anti-piracy measures were meant to make the software less expensive for the end-user, not more.
John, Margate, Kent

In terms of productivity, it's a resource hog
James, Los Angeles, California, USA
I have been a BETA tester for Windows Vista for about 6 months. Aesthetically, Vista is great - it looks good, it feels good, and the redesigned interface is intuitive. In terms of productivity, it's a resource hog: it needs high specification hardware; a decent chunk of hard disk space, a recommended 512MB of RAM. That's all good and well as most new machines will support it and eventually ship with it, but PC users who bought their PC three or four years ago with Windows XP Home or Pro are going to find it hard to upgrade their version of Windows without also upgrading their hardware.
James, Los Angeles, California, USA

I am a software developer who has used Microsoft operating systems (including beta versions of Longhorn/Vista) and other software for over 20 years and other alternatives (such as Linux) for over 10 years. Vista contains some good ideas (like .NET technology) but requires far too much processing power just to run (the operating system). Some of the main problems with Windows have not been addressed (normal users and system processes have unlimited access to the system by default) and so Vista will be just as prone to worms and viruses as previous versions in my opinion. I will stick to Linux on my own PC as it does everything equivalent software on Windows does, is much more stable than Windows, is free (I can legally give away copies to anybody), does not require registration and runs in less memory than XP (or Vista). I still do use Windows as well (when I have to - at work) but would not recommend it to anybody.
John Cockroft, Manchester

I've seen a preview of Vista. It looks like a Mac interface with Windows programs. But, I wouldn't buy it straight away. Windows XP has a bad rep. for some starting bugs in its program. I'd probably get the Ultimate Version (or the Premium edition). This'll help protect your computer and let it do its basic function!
Michael Coop, Manchester, UK

Am using IE7 beta 2 - the tabs are cool, like FireFox - but beyond that the changes are not that significant from a user's perspective. There might be more going on in terms of security, but the experience is largely indistinguishable from earlier IE incarnations. The RSS Feeds utility is limited and not as useful as the FireFox version. The look of IE7 is rather childish (toolbars and icons) and not as configurable as you would like. It has the limiting feel of a Mac: work as we want you to and not as you want to do. Vista will need to offer a lot more if it is to get people to upgrade.
Josh, Dorset

I have a Windows Vista Beta version installed on one of my PCs, and it is certainly impressive - as big a step forward as XP was when it came out. Looks good, and performs well. But, as with any new operating system, there will be compatibility issues with existing applications - for example, I tried to install AVG Anti Virus, and it refused to complete the install. So personally, I will wait until Vista is well established before I upgrade. XP is fine for now.
Steve Scott, Chatham, Kent

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