As Eric Lai points out in How many flavors will Windows 7 come in?, there's evidence in the Windows 7 beta that it will have five versions, although could have as many as eight.
Here, from his article, are the versions listed by the Windows 7 beta during the installation process:
* Starter Edition, a stripped-down version for customers in developing countries running underpowered hardware that has been around since XP.
* Home Basic, the controversial low-end consumer flavor introduced with Vista that Microsoft apparently debated whether or not to release.
* Home Premium, also introduced with Vista.
* Ultimate, introduced with Vista, the loaded-with-goodies version aimed at hard-core hobbyists.
* Business, introduced with Vista as the replacement to Professional for corporate use.He quotes a Microsoft spokesperson confirming the five versions. But the spokesperson said they were only preliminary, and that could change, depending on customer feedback.
In the ideal world, there would be only one version of Windows 7, which would do everything you needed it to. You would be able to take away or add modules as needed.
We don't live in that ideal world, of course. We live in a world of micro-targeting and niches. So multiple versions of Windows are here to stay.
Still, even in a world of micro-targeting, Microsoft should be able to reduce the number of versions of Windows 7 to only three --- a base version just called Windows 7, an Enterprise version, and an Ultimate version. The base version would be for consumers, small business, and businesses that don't need IT-specific features. The Enterprise version would be for rolling out enteprise wide. And the Ultimate version, like now, would include everything in those two versions, plus any extras Microsoft can think of.
Given that Microsoft is still deciding which versions of Windows 7 it should create, you can let the company know your feelings about it. If you're a beta Windows 7 user, let Microsoft know what versions you would like to see. And let me know, below.