Eric Lai

So how many versions of Windows XP and Vista were there again?

By Eric Lai
January 30, 2009 12:59 AM EST

Some people hope that with Windows 7 Microsoft Corp. will cut down on the somewhat-bewildering proliferation of versions that appeared with both XP and Vista.

It may be hard to remember but as recently as Windows Me, its flagship operating system only came in one edition.

By my count, XP and Vista each came in eight editions, while Windows 2000 came in four flavors.

In my story earlier this week,  I didn't explain my methodology or list exactly what I included.  Re-reading the piece, it's clear that I should do so.

So here is my count for Windows XP:

Starter. A bare-bones version of XP aimed at customers in developing countries suffering from underpowered hardware.

Home. The one we (almost) all use at home and love (or hate).

Professional. The one for business use.

Media Center. This was first released in September 2002, about a year after the above two versions were released.

Tablet. Also launched a year after XP's main release.

Professional x64(bit). This was only launched in spring 2005, 3.5 years after XP's general release.

Home 'N'. The EU mandated version that, for anti-monopoly reasons, comes without Windows Media Player.

Professional 'N'.  Ditto.

Total: 8

For Windows Vista, Microsoft got rid of Media Center (features moved into Home Premium and Ultimate) and Tablet but added a few others while renaming almost all of them:

(for consumers)
Home Basic
Home Premium
Home Premium 'N'

(for business users)
Business 'N'

Total: 8

My totals for both XP and Vista are certainly debatable, though I think mostly they could have been even higher, as:

- I did not include the upgrade versions available for both XP and Vista;

- Nor did I include both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of each Vista SKU (apart from Starter, which came in only 32-bit).

And here were the four versions of Windows 2000:

Advanced Server
Datacenter Server

You could argue that Windows 2000, not Windows Me, was the last client OS from Microsoft to come in just one version. That's because the latter three SKUs were all server versions that were later superseded by Windows Server 2003.