Microsoft has formally announced that Windows 7 will ship in six different variations: Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional, Starter, Home Basic, Enterprise and Ultimate.
The two primary editions are Home Premium and Professional. These are the two the majority of people will come into contact with when choosing an operating system.
Home Premium is the standard consumer edition, and features all the primary features aimed at the home user. This is what you should expect to see shipping on pre-built systems, including, we expect, on some of the higher-specced .
Windows 7 Professional
Professional is aimed at corporations and business. It'll offer the ability to join a managed network with Domain Join, utilise advanced network backup options and use EFS (Encrypting File System), as seen since Windows 2000.
Then there are four sub-editions. These are the versions that you won't necessarily find sitting on the shelves of PC World.
Windows 7 Starter
Starter is aimed at 'small notebook PCs' (this is the 'netbook edition' we ). It's a reduced-functionality version that aims to get Windows 7 on to low-cost machines without reducing them to a crawl. You'll be limited to three applications running at any one time, but still benefit from features such as the new Windows taskbar and 7's juicy new interface.
Windows 7 Home Basic
Home Basic is aimed at 'emerging markets only', where it'll primarily be used for running Internet and email apps, word processing, picture viewing, that sort of thing. Simple stuff for basic machines. But it'll still incorporate enhancements such as live thumbnail previews on the taskbar, and some advanced networking options such as Internet connection sharing.
Windows 7 Ultimate/Enterprise
And finally there's Ultimate and Enterprise -- Enterprise, which essentially builds on Windows 7 Professional but adds high-end components and management systems for enterprise professionals; and Ultimate, which includes absolutely everything from Home Basic to Enterprise -- every bell, each whistle.
Don't expect prices or availability details any time soon, but Windows 7's beta has been a huge success among testers, and Microsoft has already confirmed it's about to hit release-candidate status. That 2009 release is looking ever more likely by the day.