What’s in Windows 7 Ultimate?

A few minutes ago I checked Windows Update on one of my Windows 7 test systems and found a handful of updates waiting for me. I was expecting the test updates (documented by my ZDNet colleague, Mary Jo Foley, a couple days ago). But I was pleasantly surprised to see some other optional updates as well, specifically, language packs for French, German, Spanish, and Japanese.

Language packs

Microsoft hasn’t officially released the list of what’s going to be in each edition of Windows 7 yet (Paul Thurrott has reverse-engineered a list that appears to be pretty accurate, based on what I’ve seen and heard).

But here’s the bottom line. For most people, Windows 7 Ultimate will be an unnecessary luxury. Today’s updates illustrate one of only two significant (for consumers, anyway) features that will be part of the Ultimate package:

  • Windows 7 Ultimate Language Packs When Windows 7 is released, it will include a much broader selection of available languages than today’s limited selection. If you want the ability to switch between two or more languages for using Windows, this feature alone might justify paying a premium.
  • Bitlocker and Bitlocker To Go drive encryption For enterprises, drive encryption is an extremely desirable feature, especially in industries that are required by law to protect sensitive data from the risk of being accessed by unauthorized parties. BitLocker encrypts the entire drive, making data on that drive inaccessible to a notebook thief. BitLocker To Go (which I wrote about in “What to expect from Windows 7” last week) offers similar protection for USB flash drives and other removable media.

Every other feature available in Ultimate edition is designed for use with advanced corporate networks: BranchCache, AppLocker, enterprise search scopes in Federated Search, and so on. If you’re interested in those features, you likely qualify for volume licensing and should consider Windows 7 Enterprise, which is the VL version of Ultimate.

If you use a single language as your Windows interface and you don’t need BitLocker encryption, Windows 7 Professional will have everything you need.

23 thoughts on “What’s in Windows 7 Ultimate?

  1. as far as windows 7 goes i personally dont like it.i use ubuntu 9.04 and you cannot compare the two.ubuntu has much better programs.

    1. Well, I have Ubuntu 9.04 installed as a dual boot on a Sony laptop with Windows 7. I certainly don’t see a lot of wonderful programs with it although it’s quite usable. We’ll let the market speak, I guess. Want to take bets on how that turns out?

  2. As system start to come out with more and more ram, the limitation of the home edition (even home premium, 64-bit) at 8gb of ram is forcing me to move to a more expensive version.

    This sort of gimping, not just based on features but blocking you from using the basic hardware on your system is just absurd, and I hope they get bit hard for it.

  3. What about “Boot from VHD”? That is supposed to a be a Ultimate-only feature that I could use.

  4. And is it going to have “Ultimate Extras” like Vista Ultimate did? Oh wait, Vista Ultimate didn’t really have those, did it?

    Language packs do not ultimate extras make.

    1. No Ultimate Extras. That’s been officially announced. Language packs are not Extras, they’re actually a feature that for some people would be worth a premium.

  5. Really? Boot from VHD is something you would use? What’s the scenario and why would it be preferable to simply running that VHD in a virtual machine using Windows Virtual PC?

    I’ve heard some explanations of why Boot from VHD is interesting, but they all involve enterprises creating locked down configurations.

  6. I do demos/training with a VPC loaded with Windows Server, TFS, Visual Studio, WSS, BizTalk, SQL Server, etc.

    Running this and my Vista OS at the same time can be limiting for my 32-bit laptop. (Especially since I also have many of these same programs and services on my main OS). Thus, I created scripts to shut down SQL and BizTalk local services before running the VPC.

    So my issue is mostly a memory one. And yes, this isn’t something standard users would need – mine is a very unique situation.

  7. Me same as ed bott. ubuntu 9.04 gives me 20-30 min less battery life than Windows 7 on my acer aspire one

  8. And yet again, they only make Remote Desktop available in Ultimate or the Volume License versions.

    Great move Microsoft! Who would ever want to connect remotely to their PC? Maybe using you other “killer” home app Windows Home Server?

    Thanks for costing me $100+ for one feature.

    1. Brian, look again. Remote Desktop Host is included in Windows 7 Professional, just as it was in Windows XP Professional. Remote Desktop Client is in all editions. You do not need Ultimate/Enterprise to set up a Remote Desktop host.

  9. I fail to see why we need so many bundled programs within windows. Most things Microsoft provide have better, free open source versions available to download, and personally I would prefer a more lightweight OS over one which combines lots of tools that I will never use clogging up my system. Even an option while installing the OS to decide for yourself whether to install items or not would be a benefit.

    Having said that, I do find Windows 7 to be quicker and generally more responsive than Vista.

  10. I just figured Professional and Enterprise would be the two non-consumer licenses. Still, I’m having to buy Professional for one feature, and I would not be surprised if it’s at least $50 more than Home Premium.

    Still, it seems stupid that they are advertising WHS for the “average consumer”, but one of the marquee features is useless unless you buy the top tier edition of their desktop products. And of course, they don’t include Remote Desktop support in their most common, by far, version because “only geeks and IT professionals use it”.

    It’s like the two product groups aren’t talking to each other…

    1. You will get much more than that for your extra $50 or $99, including Encrypting File System, Offline Files (escellent feature), domain join capabilities (you probably don’t need) and the ability to use more than 8GB of RAM. If that’s too much to pay, then use VNC or something similar. You have a choice. Would you prefer that Microsoft charge the higher price to everyone and make all features available? That’s the real issue with product segmentation.

      And remember, there are only two versions, really, despite all the propaganda you read. Home Premium is good enough for most people. If you want more, like Remoet Desktop Host, then you can buy Professional. Just like with XP. Or around the turn of the century when you could choose Windows 9x or Windows NT/2000.

  11. There is also remote desktop capabilities with the free Live Mesh and free Live Sync tools provided by Microsoft.

    Granted, IMO, neither is as performant as RDP but this is a feature for a very small % of power home users.

    Unfortunately, I count myself in that group, so I feel the pain.

  12. Brian Just install Live Mesh for Free and you will get RDP to Windows 7 Premium ( and even to XP Home Edition).

  13. @Brian,

    I’m a Windows Home Server user, and I believe WHS allows remote PC access in this specific instance only if the PC’s OS has such capability, such as XP Professional (vs. XP Home).

    That said, if your PC is backed up to shared folders, regardless of the individual PC’s OS, you can remotely access the files.

    I wouldn’t call WHS a “killer app,” but it’s saved my butt more than once, and it was well worth the investment.

    (Sorry I took this off the rails a bit.)

  14. Personally speaking, I am not a fan of Microsoft’s scheme of having so many versions of the client OS, and it seems to me that language packs should be part of the OS. But regardless, in my testing of the Beta and RC, Win 7 runs great and it will be a nice upgrade from Vista (which is a lot better than the groupthink seems to be willing to admit).

    Pale Rider: At least in Windows 7, Microsoft has removed some applications from the default install of Windows that used to be mandatory: Windows Calendar, Windows Mail, Windows Movie Maker, Windows Photo Gallery are no longer included. Granted, I wish I had the option of not installing Internet Explorer and some other things, but it’s a good start.

  15. As time goes by, I am becoming less inclined to want to pay for an OS. The free alternatives, especially Ubuntu, have already become “good enough” replacements and will rapidly become “better than good enough” in due time. I really, really can’t see the benefit of paying between $200 and $300 for an operating system! Oh sure, you can’t play hardcore PC games on Ubuntu. But, that is a business decision made by developers. Business decisions can and will likely be changed as time goes by and the end-user demographic migrates towards free, alternative OSes.

    So much for the individual user. For a business or enterprise, there are many other costs associated with upgrading. It could cost many hundreds more per unit in licensing, application and infrastructure upgrades, testing, and retraining at all staff levels. Never mind compatibility headaches.

    Microsoft makes matters worse by CALing these companies to death. (CAL = Client Access License.)

    For each user:
    – You need a CAL for the OS.
    – You need a CAL to access the Domain.
    – You need a separate CAL if you access the Domain through Terminal Services!
    – You need a CAL to access Exchange Server.
    – You need a CAL for Microsoft Office.

    On and on and on.

    If Microsoft was a private company, and I was CEO, I would try a different business model. I would, at the very least, give the OS away for free to private and corporate end-users, license the built-in API technologies to developers and make money that way. Even if you want to keep the sorely anachronistic CAL model, at least give the OS away for free! I would do the same for the Server versions as well. It doesn’t have to be OpenSource to be free! All of Microsoft’s intellectual property rights will remain intact. This would all but guarantee a much larger and loyal user base for years.

    Why won’t Microsoft even consider this?

    This will also absolutely solve the piracy problem once and for all — at least regarding OS piracy. You can make your own parallels to application piracy as well.

    Naïve? Maybe. But, that is exactly the kind of different-thinking that is needed going forward. Microsoft has to pull itself out of the tar-pit of old school business models if it is to survive.

  16. Can you elaborate on the language features more? I currently use Russian and English on my regular ol’ English US version of Windows XP Pro and am pretty happy with it. English is my first language, so I don’t need my Windows menus or anything in Russian, I just need to be able to read and write emails,read webpages, and use one or two bilingual apps such as a dictionary in Russian and English. Do I need Windows 7 Ultimate?

  17. Maybe I didn’t read the article quite right? Can you only get these language packs in the Ultimate version?

    Microsoft is actually going to charge a premium for the ability to switch between English and some other language?

    Wasn’t that historically free?

    Man, oh man, oh man! (Go back and read my older comment — #20)

  18. it is well known fact that windows are far behind the linux os,
    then i don’t understand that why people are comparing ubantu with windows..?
    window 7 ultimate is very nice.. it is little bit bulky but is a good attempt by the microsoft to overcome the drawbacks of vista..

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