Adobe says Vista Home Basic isn’t worth testing

Adobe just published this TechNote yesterday:

Support Policy for Adobe Creative Suite 3 on Microsoft Vista Home Basic

Adobe Creative Suite 3 is not supported on Microsoft Vista Home Basic. The product was not tested on Vista Home Basic. If through the course of normal troubleshooting it is revealed that the problem is because of a limitation of the OS and not the application, then Adobe Technical Support may not be able to resolve the issue.

In other words, “Hey! You in the polyester pants with the fanny pack! We don’t serve your kind here.”

Seriously, this is a technically unjustifiable decision. Windows Vista Home Basic is exactly the same as Home Premium, minus some high-end digital media features. Media Center is not included, nor is DVD Maker. Of course, those features are missing in Vista Business as well, which is supported by Adobe. So that can’t be the problem. The version of Movie Maker in Home Basic doesn’t support HD content, and you can’t add themes to photo slide shows. Of course, Vista Business doesn’t have Movie Maker at all has the exact same limitations.

So what’s the single remaining technical difference between Home Basic and the rest of the Vista family? Ah. It doesn’t display advanced Aero effects such as transparent window borders and thumbnail previews on the taskbar. That’s it.

Now take a look at the system requirements for Photoshop CS3:

Microsoft® Windows® XP with Service Pack 2 or Windows Vista™ Home Premium, Business, Ultimate, or Enterprise (certified for 32-bit editions)

Let me get this straight. Any edition of Windows XP with Service Pack 2 is supported, including XP Home. None of them have Aero’s whizzy advanced effects, and Adobe is OK with that. But not Vista Home Basic? That makes no sense at all. As far as PhotoShop is concerned, the graphics engine in Vista is identical in every edition.

Joe at ITsVista has this analysis:

So let me get this straight, Adobe is saying that the problem is that they didn’t test CS3 on Vista Home Basic, but through troubleshooting, they may be able to reveal that a limitation of Vista Home Basic caused the lack of testing, and Adobe may therefore not be able to test it. It is because of this lack of testing, or the inability to test it if they wanted to, that prevents Adobe from supporting Creative Suite 3 on Windows Vista Home Basic. It’s all making sense now.

Adobe doesn’t consider Vista Home Basic to be a significant enough OS to test their product on. I would agree, Vista Home Basic shouldn’t have been released, and Microsoft is even being sued by others that feel the same way (Vista Home Basic capable does not equal Vista capable).

I think this has nothing to do with technical merits or with Adobe’s relationship with Microsoft. It has everything to do with keeping the riffraff out. Adobe is saying if you use Home Basic you’re a cheapskate, the kind of person who clips grocery coupons out of the Sunday paper and never buys anything unless it’s got a rebate or until it’s marked down at the end of the season. They figure you’re buying cut-rate hardware and you should expect cut-rate service.

If there’s a genuine technical reason not to use Vista Home Basic, Adobe should say so. If there isn’t a good reason, they should start supporting it.

23 thoughts on “Adobe says Vista Home Basic isn’t worth testing

  1. The only thing I’d add is that everything you said here applies equally to running Vista Home Basic as a Virtual Machine, which Microsoft won’t allow you to do.

  2. Ed, I think you’ve missed a key point here. I doubt there is a significant technical reason that CS3 would fail to run on Vista Home Basic. The issue, as always, comes down to cost vs. benefit.

    Testing a large suite of products like CS3 costs money. Lots of money. Microsoft put out a lot of editions of Vista, far more than it did for XP. As such, it has an exponential effect on the cost of platform testing. One way to reduce those costs is to not test on some platform variants.

    So why skip Home Basic? Because its only installed on the cheapest PCs (

  3. my comment seems to have been cut off, I think because it mistook a less-than sign (<) as the beginning of an HTML tag (you may have an XSS vulnerability). It should have said something like:

    So why skip Home Basic? Because its only installed on the cheapest PCs (under $400 usually), and the people who buy those PCs generally aren’t the sort of folks who buy expensive products like CS3. Compare the number of potential customers with the cost of testing on that particular platform and the decision is easy. You may not like it, but it makes good business sense.

  4. This is just my -intuition- speaking here, but Ed, your article, “No more Nvidia for me” and now this thing with Adobe, and the several other articles and discussions about a seeming dearth of drivers and programs that do not run in Vista….Could it be that the Nvidia folks are simply ticked off at Microsoft, or can it be they -can’t- make their product work on Vista because Vista is so clunky? In either case you, personally have become a victim of a Vista deficiency and had to make some big changes in your systems. How can this possibly not be lost on Microsoft? Multiply your experience by several million of annoyed Vista users.

    These things all add up to a general backlash against Microsoft’s release of a product (Vista) that is just a great big old letdown. Interestingly, the backlash and unflattering responses are not just from users, but from manufacturers, too. That’s a big deal in my opinion, and my -intuitive sense- is, this will put even more pressure on Microsoft to Get This Thing Fixed…and Do It Quick. Openly expressed corporate resistance to Vista surely has to be getting Microsoft’s attention, too.

    I am not anti-Vista, I bought three copies of it, one of them Basic, and the installations are on hard drives that I can simply plug in to my laptops. Vista runs quite well on all three laptops. But as an OS of choice, it’s XP for me because more things work on XP, and it’s faster. Even with Vista’s Aero and “Flip Flop” turned off, Vista still doesn’t give me the speed and versatility I know should have.

  5. I don’t buy the argument that Vista Home Basic is for cheapskates. I just purchased a Lenovo Thinkpad X31 with the latest Intel hardware and the default operating system of choice is Vista Home Basic. This is a $1,400 system. If its good enough for Lenovo, it should be good enough for Adobe.

  6. Let me take an opposite tack here and say it’s Microsoft’s fault, for producing so many different flavors of Vista. I still think they would have been better off relegating Vista to 64-bit machines only, leaving the 32-bit world to XP.

    No, that wouldn’t make business sense, as Andrew would say, but in this case, it reasonable to assume that those buying Vista Home Basic for $99 are not going to turn around and spend $800-1200 for CS3.

  7. Andrew, if “the cost of testing on that particular platform ” were so high, wouldn’t other software companies be complaining and/or taking this action? And yet it’s just Adobe.

  8. I’m already annoyed with Adobe. They say they aren’t going to support Acrobat 7 in Vista. It works though, sort of, just that if you want to create a PDF from a web page you need to turn off protected mode in IE and then restart it–which means you need to do it before you get to the page you want to print.

    I’m in the habit of printing order confirmations and such to PDF’s rather than printing them to paper and those are the kind of things you can’t get back to; so I have to plan ahead and I forget to do that on a regular basis. But I guess Adobe would rather that I upgrade to Acrobat 8 (and I perfer 7’s interface). At least I’ve found a use for XPS files.

  9. David, you’re right (and I knew that). Vista Business has the non-HD version of Movie Maker, same as the one in Home Basic. I’ve fixed the post.

  10. What other companies are you referring to? The number of companies that actually do testing across the entire matrix is pretty small. Most smaller software companies just don’t have the resources to even consider testing on all editions, so they just say it works and hope for the best. Big companies like Adobe, Quark, and Intuit have to worry about the bad press they’ll get if they say it works and then it doesn’t, so they won’t officially support a platform they don’t test on. They don’t complain publicly because what would the point be? To shame Microsoft into publishing fewer editions of Vista?

  11. Well it seems to me that you said it yourself in the article…there IS no significant difference between the OSes, and as far as PS is concerned the graphics engine is the same across all Vista editions.

    So not a big deal IMHO, unless there’s something that goes spectacularly wrong on HomeBasic, which seems unlikely.

  12. hey Adobe has too a package for cheapskates guys , the Elements is for him.
    I’ve orders a lot of computers from DELL an so on with HB edition in advance , because i not need the Aero and other culprits .
    by the way there are any seriously problems with CS3 and Basic Edition ?

  13. PS, Andrew… Early in this comments thread you wrote “Microsoft put out a lot of editions of Vista, far more than it did for XP.”

    Not true.

    See the table here:

    I count 7 XP versions and 6 for Vista.

    I don’t see Adobe saying my Tablet PC running XP Tablet PC Edition is unsupported. Nor is there anything about XP Media Center Edition 2002, 2004, or 2005.

  14. Ed,

    Is that a joke? When XP was released there were only two mainstream editions = Home and Pro, MCE came out much later in limited use, tablet edition was a flop, x64 edition was non existent. Thus software companies only did and still do test for TWO editions of XP = HOME AND PRO.

    Now we have Vista with 4 Editions out of the gate = Home Basic, Home Premium, Business and Ultimate. Which ALL have “x64” editions for.

    I cannot believe you are trying to pull such blatant BS on this. I don’t think anyone rational is buying it.

    FYI you need to update the chart since it is misleading by saying NA for Vista x64 since they all can be obtained like that.

    Microsoft shot themselves in the foot with all these editions. Home Basic should never have been made. I don’t feel bad one bit Adobe is not testing on it, if I ran a software company I would not waste my time with it either.

  15. Is Flash worth testing? Microsoft could stop supporting Flash in the next service packs for XP and Vista. After all, Flash is installed on many more computers than Windows: Adobe are evil monopolists.
    Meanwhile we can always install Flashblock

  16. I agree with Ed on the versioning issue with XP vs Vista. I also disagree that Windows XP MCE and Windows XP Tablet PC Edition is in “limited use” and a “flop” respectively.

    Windows XP MCE was a very popular choice on Dell’s website, as well as promoted by many on web forums as being a good middle ground between Home and Pro (price vs features). As far as I noticed, all tablet PC’s that were produced during the XP era were all equipped with Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, yes?

    I think the key is that Microsoft is now allowing people to purchase editions more tailored to their requirements. If you can’t define your requirements… than you probably only need to cheapest version of Vista. If you find out you need more features, you can always upgrade.

    For most users at home… you’re looking at maybe three versions at most. Home Basic, Home Premium and Ultimate. For business owners, you’re looking at Business, Enterprise or Ultimate again. Starter is pretty much out of the picture unless you’re purchasing a set of low cost PC’s for some classroom in a newly developing country. Looking at 3 different versions is really not that much of a burden to place on consumers IMHO, and I think all the fuss about all this versioning is kind of ridiculous.

  17. Andrew Weng said: “for most {consumer, business} users they have to look at three versions for Vista”.

    Now restate that sentence in XP terms, both when it came out, and now. (granted I haven’t paid much attention to 64 bit editions at all).

    When XP came out, I believe there were two choices for “most” consumers, home and pro. Businesses had one “choice”, pro.

    Now media center has been released, and it is a little hard to get Home, so I think there are still two choices for consumers, and one choice for businesses.

    I think there is a big jump going between two and three choices. It suddenly gets much harder to compare, since you have to compare each version against two others. So, even if you want to make the argument that there are only three versions of vista to compare, that is a big difference from two.

    As a software vendor, it also quite difficult to figure out whether we need to purchase all versions of vista for testing, or if running on just a couple is good enough, and will we be completely blindsided by not testing on any one of them, and if we only test on home premium and business, can we expect our software to work on the other versions (hint, the answer is no, due to permission issues, both in Home basic and ultimate – sorry I can’t provide more details, since I wasn’t involved in the testing, but we are definitely not supporting ultimate, a bunch of things didn’t work correctly, and the majority of our customers are home users, so we expect them to not run ultimate. Presumably, we could spend the time and fix our software, which is probably doing things incorrectly, and it is tolerated on other versions, but not ultimate, but we don’t have the resources to figure out why).

    For vista, I think businesses probably have two choices, business or ultimate. Home users however, have to consider all five, though I suspect starter can get thrown out fairly early on, and perhaps ultimate based on cost alone. So, you could make the argument that you “only” have to compare between home basic, home premium and business, but I currently don’t know enough to recommend which version is suitable for which of my friends when they ask.

    It took me a long time to figure out the difference between home and pro, and which of the differences actually matter. I finally figured out that the only difference that I care about is file sharing, which is completely unusable in home, except where security never matters, and you never have friends use your network when they come over.

    I have already spent some time trying to figure out what each version of vista is, but it seems less clear to me than a simple XP Home = “home basic”, chart that you posted earlier.

    It makes it more difficult with stuff being removed in the upper versions – I don’t think that happened in XP, at least comparing Home to Pro? I am unaware of anything significant missing in Pro that exists in Home. But, in Vista there are strange (in my opinion) things that are missing out of ultimate and business. I guess based on the name, I would have expected ultimate to be more like what is labeled enterprise on your chart – “ultimate” should have every feature of lower versions.

  18. The comment about Vista Home Basic being only installed on the cheapest computer is a flawed acusation. My Laptop cost $1200 with home basic, it would have cost nearly 1700 if i put vista ultimate on it. this is why i didnt, the point i am getting at is that in order for me to use Adobe products it seems my only path is downgrading my OS to XP professinal. im sure you can imagine why this would be an annoying solution to an unjsutified problem. basically what im trying to get at is that they should nto exclude an operating system jsut because lesser computers run it, because in my case, i didnt want tol give an extra 500 to upgrade ram and OS.

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