02:54 PM

Vista Versions May Number 8

Microsoft drops additional clues that the next-generation operating system will come in even more flavors than the current Windows XP.

Microsoft briefly posted a list of Windows Vista versions to its Web site, giving additional clues that the next-generation operating system will come in even more flavors than the current Windows XP.

Although Microsoft hasn't released a final catalog of Vista versions, dubbed SKUs for Stock Keeping Unit, it published a list to a help page on the Microsoft Web site that spelled out six core editions, plus another two which meet the European Union's antitrust ruling that the OS comes sans Windows Media Player.

According to the page, which has since been removed from the site, Vista will be available as Windows Starter 2007, Windows Vista Home Basic (with an 'N' edition for the EU), Windows Vista Home Premium, Windows Vista Business (also with an 'N' version), Windows Vista Enterprise, and Windows Vista Ultimate.

(Google's cache of the graphical version of the page is unavailable, but an all-text cache can be found here.)

Presumably, Windows Starter 2007, the lowest-priced version, won't carry the "Vista" name because it won't offer the new Aero graphics display, nor come in a 64-bit version. Windows Vista Home Basic and Windows Vista Home Premium will offer fundamental features and Media Center-like entertainment tools, respectively.

Windows Vista Business will be analogous to Windows XP Professional, while Windows Vista Enterprise will include Virtual PC and advanced encryption tools.

Windows Vista Ultimate, meanwhile, is to include elements of both Vista Home Premium and Vista Business, with some additional as-yet-undisclosed tools and/or features.

On Tuesday, Microsoft issued a statement denying that the list was final. "Microsoft recently posted a web page designed to test the Windows Vista help system that included incomplete information about the Windows Vista product line up. This page has since been removed as it was posted prematurely and was for testing purposes only."

While rumors of Vista SKUs -- what names, what each will include -- have been circulating for more than a year, all are consistent in coming up with a tally that exceeds Windows XP's five client flavors of Home, Professional, Media Center Edition, Tablet PC Edition, and Professional x64 Edition.

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