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Tech Report – Which Windows 7 is right for you?

Windows 7 is online and in the stores and, like many people, you have decided to make the upgrade. You've run the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor and know that your PC can support an upgrade, and now you're wondering which version of Windows 7 is right for you. We take a look at the four main options and highlight the features that will help you decide.

Windows 7 Starter

Windows 7 Starter is the entry-level edition of Windows 7 and is primarily for netbooks (small notebooks) and other PCs with limited hardware. Features include the customizable Windows Taskbar, Jump Lists and the ability to join a HomeGroup, but Windows 7 Starter doesn't include Windows Media Center, Windows Media Player or any of the multi-touch functionality.

Windows 7 Starter is not available for upgrade from Windows XP or Windows Vista, so it will only be part of your decision-making process if you are looking to buy a new netbook or smaller PC. Windows 7 Starter will allow later upgrades to Home Premium using the Anytime Upgrade option – if your hardware will support it.

Windows 7 Home Premium

The Windows 7 Home Premium is the version that will appeal to most consumers and includes all the navigation and entertainment features that are some of the main benefits of a Windows 7 upgrade.

Home Premium users can stream Internet TV and other video wherever and whenever they want. They can create as well as join HomeGroups to share photos, music, video and other files with other networked Windows 7-enabled PCs. And they can enjoy all the Aero and multi-touch navigation and personalization features.

One potential drawback of Home Premium is that it doesn't include XP Mode. This will only matter if you run a small or medium-sized business and are still using older programs that require a PC running Windows XP. For this, you will need Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate. If you are unsure, visit the Windows 7 Compatibility Center.

Home Premium costs $119.99 and can be upgraded to either Professional or Ultimate using the Anytime Upgrade option.

Windows 7 Professional

Windows 7 Professional is the power user edition of Windows 7. In addition to all the features in the Home Premium edition, Professional is designed to be flexible for dual use in the home and small business. It supports legacy Windows XP productivity programs via XP Mode and it can back-up data to a networked drive.

Professional also features Location Aware Printing, which allows the user to nominate a default printer for each configured network, so a printer will be selected automatically based on the computer's location.

Windows 7 Professional costs $199.99.

Windows 7 Ultimate

Windows 7 Ultimate is primarily designed to meet the needs of the enterprise customer. Ultimate has all the features of Windows 7 Professional, together with enhanced networking and security features. It also supports a multi-lingual capability, allowing users to work in any of 35 languages.

It's hard to conceive of home or small business settings that would require the extra features of Ultimate, but if you're simply looking for everything that Windows 7 has to offer, this version is for you!

Windows 7 Ultimate sells for $219.99.

Do you have a question about Windows 7? Use the comments box below and The Online Mom will get right back to you!      

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