Windows 7 editions

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Windows 7, a major release of the Microsoft Windows operating system, has been released in several editions since its original release in 2009. Only Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate were widely available at retailers.[1] The other editions focus on other markets, such as the software development world or enterprise use. All editions support 32-bit IA-32 CPUs and all editions except Starter support 64-bit x64 CPUs. 64-bit installation media are not included in Home-Basic edition packages, but can be obtained separately from windows.

According to Microsoft, the features for all editions of Windows 7 are stored on the machine, regardless of which edition is in use.[2] Users who wish to upgrade to an edition of Windows 7 with more features were able to use Windows Anytime Upgrade to purchase the upgrade and to unlock the features of those editions, until it was discontinued in 2015.[1][2][3] Microsoft announced Windows 7 pricing information for some editions on June 25, 2009, and Windows Anytime Upgrade and Family Pack pricing on July 31, 2009.[1][4][5]

Main editions[edit]

Mainstream support for all Windows 7 editions ended on January 13, 2015, and extended support ended on January 14, 2020. After that, the operating system ceased receiving further support.[6] Professional and Enterprise volume licensed editions have paid Extended Security Updates (ESU) available until at most January 10, 2023.[7] Since October 31, 2013, Windows 7 is no longer available in retail, except for remaining stocks of the preinstalled Professional edition, which was officially discontinued on October 31, 2016.[8]

Windows 7 Starter
Windows 7 Starter is the edition of Windows 7 that contains the fewest features. It is only available in a 32-bit version and does not include the Windows Aero theme. The desktop wallpaper and visual styles (Windows 7 Basic) are not user-changeable. In the release candidate versions of Windows 7, Microsoft intended to restrict users of this edition to running three simultaneous programs, but this limitation was dropped in the final release.[9] This edition does not support more than 2 GB of RAM.
This edition was available pre-installed on computers, especially netbooks or Windows Tablets, through system integrators or computer manufacturers using OEM licenses.[1][10][11]
Windows 7 Home Basic
Windows 7 Home Basic was available in "emerging markets", in 141 countries.[12] Some Windows Aero options are excluded along with several new features.[1] This edition is available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions and supports up to 8 GB of RAM. Home Basic, along with other editions sold in emerging markets, includes geographical activation restriction, which requires users to activate Windows within a certain region or country.[13]
Windows 7 Home Premium
This edition contains features aimed at the home market segment, such as Windows Media Center, Windows Aero and multi-touch support. It was available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions.[14]
Windows 7 Professional
This edition is targeted towards enthusiasts, small-business users, and schools.[1] It includes all the features of Windows 7 Home Premium, and adds the ability to participate in a Windows Server domain.[1] Additional features include support for up to 192 GB of RAM (increased from 16 GB),[15] operating as a Remote Desktop server, location aware printing, backup to a network location, Encrypting File System, Presentation Mode, Software Restriction Policies (but not the extra management features of AppLocker) and Windows XP Mode.[1] It was available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions.[14]
Windows 7 Enterprise
This edition targeted the enterprise segment of the market and was sold through volume licensing to companies which have a Software Assurance (SA) contract with Microsoft.[1] Additional features include support for Multilingual User Interface (MUI) packages, BitLocker Drive Encryption, and UNIX application support.[1] Not available through retail or OEM channels, this edition is distributed through SA.[1] As a result, it includes several SA-only benefits, including a license allowing the operating of diskless nodes (diskless PCs) and activation via Volume License Key (VLK).[16]
Windows 7 Ultimate
Windows 7 Ultimate contains the same features as Windows 7 Enterprise, but this edition was available to home users on an individual license basis.[1] For a while, Windows 7 Home Premium and Windows 7 Professional users were able to upgrade to Windows 7 Ultimate for a fee using Windows Anytime Upgrade if they wished to do so, this service is still available if users want to upgrade to Ultimate from Home Premium or Professional.[1] Unlike Windows Vista Ultimate, the Windows 7 Ultimate does not include the Windows Ultimate Extras feature or any exclusive features as Microsoft had stated.[1]

Special-purpose editions[edit]

The main editions also can take the form of one of the following special editions:

N and KN editions
The features in the N and KN Editions are the same as their equivalent full versions, but do not include Windows Media Player or other Windows Media-related technologies, such as Windows Media Center and Windows DVD Maker due to limitations set by the European Union and South Korea, respectively.[17] The cost of the N and KN Editions are the same as the full versions, as the Media Feature Pack for Windows 7 N or Windows 7 KN can be downloaded without charge from Microsoft.[18]

Upgrade editions[edit]

In-place upgrade from Windows Vista with Service Pack 1 to Windows 7 is supported if the processor architecture and the language are the same and their editions match (see below).[1][3][19] In-place upgrade is not supported for earlier versions of Windows; moving to Windows 7 on these machines requires a clean installation, i.e. removal of the old operating system, installing Windows 7 and reinstalling all previously installed programs. Windows Easy Transfer can assist in this process.[1][3][20][21] Microsoft made upgrade SKUs of Windows 7 for selected editions of Windows XP and Windows Vista. The difference between these SKUs and full SKUs of Windows 7 is their lower price and proof of license ownership of a qualifying previous version of Windows. Same restrictions on in-place upgrading applies to these SKUs as well.[22] In addition, Windows 7 is available as a Family Pack upgrade edition in certain markets, to upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium only. It gives licenses to upgrade three machines from Vista or Windows XP to the Windows 7 Home Premium edition. These are not full versions, so each machine to be upgraded must have one of these qualifying previous versions of Windows for them to work.[23] In the United States, this offer expired in early December 2009.[24] In October 2010, to commemorate the anniversary of Windows 7, Microsoft once again made Windows 7 Home Premium Family Pack available for a limited time, while supplies lasted.[25]

Upgrade compatibility[edit]

There are two possible ways to upgrade to Windows 7 from an earlier version of Windows:

  • An in-place install (labelled "Upgrade" in the installer), where settings and programs are preserved from an older version of Windows. This option is only sometimes available, depending on the editions of Windows being used, and is not available at all unless upgrading from Windows Vista.[26]
  • A clean install (labelled "Custom" in the installer), where all settings including but not limited to user accounts, applications, user settings, music, photos, and programs are erased entirely and the current operating system is erased and replaced with Windows 7. This option is always available and is required for all versions of Windows XP.[27]

The table below lists which upgrade paths allow for an in-place install. Note that in-place upgrades can only be performed when the previous version of Windows is of the same architecture. If upgrading from a 32-bit installation to a 64-bit installation or downgrading from 64-bit installation to 32-bit installation, a clean install is mandatory regardless of the editions being used.

Version and its
specific edition of
Windows to
upgrade from
Edition of Windows 7 to upgrade to
Professional Enterprise Ultimate
Vista Home Basic In-place In-place Clean Clean In-place
Vista Home Premium Clean In-place Clean Clean In-place
Vista Business Clean Clean In-place In-place In-place
Vista Enterprise Clean Clean Clean In-place Clean
Vista Ultimate Clean Clean Clean Clean In-place
XP Clean Clean Clean Clean Clean
  In-place installation option available.
  Requires clean install.

Anytime Upgrade editions[edit]

Microsoft still supports in-place upgrades from a lower edition of Windows 7 to a higher one, using the Windows Anytime Upgrade tool.[1] There are currently three retail options available (though it is currently unclear whether they can be used with previous installations of the N versions).[28] There are no family pack versions of the Anytime Upgrade editions. It was possible to use the Product Key from a Standard upgrade edition to accomplish an in-place upgrade (e.g. Home Premium to Ultimate).[29][30]

  • Starter to Home Premium
  • Starter to Professional1
  • Starter to Ultimate1
  • Home Premium to Professional
  • Home Premium to Ultimate
  • Professional to Ultimate1

1 Available in retail, and at the Microsoft Store


Windows Thin PC
On February 9, 2011, Microsoft announced Windows Thin PC, a branded derivative of Windows Embedded Standard 7 with Service Pack 1, designed as a lightweight version of Windows 7 for installation on low performance PCs as an alternative to using a dedicated thin client device. It succeeded Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs, which was based on Windows XP Embedded. Windows Thin PC was released on June 6, 2011.
Embedded versions
Windows 7 is also currently available in two distinct forms of Windows Embedded, named as Windows Embedded Standard 7 (known as Windows Embedded Standard 2011 prior to release, the newest being Windows Embedded Standard 7 with Service Pack 1) and Windows Embedded POSReady 7. Both versions are eligible for Extended Security Updates (ESU) for up to three years after their end of extended support dates.[7] In addition, binary identical for Embedded Systems (FES) variants of Professional and Ultimate editions are also available, differing only in licensing, and with their support periods also matching their non FES variants.

Comparison chart[edit]

Windows 7 edition comparison chart[1][3][4][16][20][31][32][33]
Features Starter Home Basic Home Premium Professional Enterprise Ultimate
Licensing scheme OEM licensing Retail and OEM
licensing in
emerging markets
Retail and OEM
Retail, OEM and
volume licensing[34]
Volume licensing[34] Retail and OEM
Maximum physical memory (RAM) (32-Bit)[35] 2 GB 4 GB
Maximum physical memory (RAM) (64-Bit)[35] 8 GB 16 GB 192 GB
Maximum physical CPUs supported[a][36] 1 2
Desktop Gadgets Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Built-in AVCHD support[37] No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Multiple monitors No High quality required High quality required High quality required High quality required High quality required
Fast user switching No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Desktop Window Manager No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Windows Mobility Center No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Printing via the Internet No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Windows Parental Controls[38] Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
64-bit edition available? No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Windows Aero No Partial Yes Yes Yes Yes
Built-in DVD (MPEG-2 and Dolby Digital) decoder[3] No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Multi-touch No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Windows Media Center No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Windows Media Player remote media experience[b] No No Yes[39] Yes[39] Yes[39] Yes[39]
Premium games included No No Yes Yes[c] Yes[c] Yes
HomeGroup support Join only Join only Create or join Create or join Create or join Create or join
Back up to network with Backup and Restore Center[41] No No No Yes Yes Yes
Act as host for Remote Desktop Services No No No Yes Yes Yes
Dynamic disks[42] No No No Yes Yes Yes
Encrypting File System No No No Yes Yes Yes
Location-aware printing No No No Yes Yes Yes
Presentation mode No No No Yes Yes Yes
Group Policy[43] No No No Yes Yes Yes
Offline files and folder redirection[43] No No No Yes Yes Yes
Windows Server domain joining No No No Yes Yes Yes
Windows XP Mode[d] No Partial Partial Yes Yes Yes
Software restriction policies No No No Yes Yes Yes
Remote administration tools No No No Yes Yes Yes
Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services (AD LDS)[e] No No No Yes Yes Yes
AppLocker No No No Create policies, but cannot enforce Create and enforce policies Create and enforce policies
Aero glass remoting[44][45] No No No No Yes Yes
Windows Media Player multimedia redirection[45] No No No No Yes[39] Yes[39]
Enterprise search scopes[43]: 130  No No No No Yes Yes
Federated search[46] No No No No Yes Yes
BitLocker Drive Encryption No No No No Yes Yes
BranchCache Distributed Cache No No No No Yes Yes
Subsystem for Unix-based Applications No No No No Yes Yes
Supports Multilingual User Interface packages No No No No Yes Yes
Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) enhancements[43]: 130  No No No No Yes Yes
Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) licensed[47] No No No No Yes Yes
VHD booting[f] No No No No Yes Yes
Switching between any of the 37 available languages[49][50] No No No No Yes[50] Yes[50]
Features Starter Home Basic Home Premium Professional Enterprise Ultimate

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Not the same as logical processor limits: all editions are limited to 32 logical processors for IA-32 and 256 for x64
  2. ^ Feature of Windows Media Player which enables the use and control of media libraries on other computers
  3. ^ a b Disabled by default.[40]
  4. ^ Windows Virtual PC including a complete copy of Windows XP with Service Pack 3 using Remote Desktop Protocol to display individual applications integrated with the host OS (Windows 7). Windows XP Mode is available as a free download from Microsoft.
  5. ^ formerly Active Directory Application Mode (ADAM)
  6. ^ Any edition of Windows 7 can be installed onto a VHD volume; these installations even appear in the boot menu. However, only Enterprise or Ultimate editions start. Other editions return an error message.[48]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r "All Windows 7 Versions—What You Need to Know". ExtremeTech. February 5, 2009. Retrieved February 5, 2009.
  2. ^ a b LeBlanc, Brandon (February 9, 2009). "A closer look at the Windows 7 SKUs". Windows Team Blog. Microsoft. Retrieved February 9, 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d e Thurrott, Paul (February 3, 2009). "Windows 7 Product Editions". Retrieved February 3, 2009.
  4. ^ a b "Microsoft unveils 'screaming deals' for Windows 7". ZDNet. June 25, 2009. Retrieved June 25, 2009.
  5. ^ "Windows Anytime Upgrade and Family Pack Pricing". Microsoft. July 31, 2009. Retrieved July 31, 2009.
  6. ^ "Microsoft product support lifecycle information by product family: Windows 7". Microsoft. Retrieved January 28, 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Lifecycle FAQ-Extended Security Updates". Retrieved August 12, 2020. The Extended Security Update (ESU) program is a last resort option for customers who need to run certain legacy Microsoft products past the end of support.
  8. ^ "Windows lifecycle fact sheet".
  9. ^ Keizer, Gregg (May 29, 2009). "Microsoft kills Windows 7 Starter's 3-app limit". Computer World.
  10. ^ "Windows 7 Wins on Netbook PCs". Microsoft. February 3, 2009. Retrieved February 3, 2009.
  11. ^ "Microsoft forbids changes to Windows 7 netbook wallpaper". The Register. June 19, 2009. Retrieved October 22, 2009.
  12. ^ Hachman, Mark (February 4, 2009). "The Windows 7 Versions: What You Need to Know". PC Magazine. Windows 7 Home Basic. Retrieved October 22, 2011.
  13. ^ "How to Tell: Geographically Restricted Microsoft Software". Microsoft. Retrieved November 17, 2009.
  14. ^ a b "All Windows 7 Versions—What You Need to Know – Windows Home Premium". ExtremeTech. February 5, 2009. Retrieved February 5, 2009.
  15. ^ Bott, Ed. "Do you need more than Windows 7 Home Premium?". ZDNet. CBS Interactive. Retrieved January 15, 2014.
  16. ^ a b "Products: Windows 7 Enterprise". Microsoft. Retrieved April 2, 2009.
  17. ^ "Description of the Windows Media Feature Pack for Windows 7 N and for Windows 7 KN". Microsoft. November 10, 2009. Retrieved April 24, 2011.
  18. ^ "Media Feature Pack for Windows 7 N with Service Pack 1 and Windows 7 KN with Service Pack 1 (KB968211)". Microsoft. March 7, 2011. Retrieved April 24, 2011.
  19. ^ "The Microsoft Windows 7 Upgrade Program Rev. 2.0". Tech ARP. February 10, 2009. Retrieved February 10, 2009.
  20. ^ a b Foley, Mary-Jo (February 3, 2009). "Microsoft's Windows 7 line-up: The good, the bad and the ugly". ZDNet. Retrieved February 17, 2009.
  21. ^ Fiveash, Kelly (February 5, 2009). "Windows 7 'upgrade' doesn't mark XP spot". Channel Register. The Register. Retrieved February 12, 2009.
  22. ^ "Microsoft Store UK – Windows 7". Archived from the original on September 19, 2009. Retrieved September 14, 2009.
  23. ^ steam blog, dated 2009/07/31, accessed September 16, 2009.
  24. ^ Windows 7 Family Pack Discontinued
  25. ^ Family Pack returns in time for the Anniversary of Windows 7
  26. ^ "Windows 7 Upgrade Paths". Microsoft. Retrieved September 13, 2011.
  27. ^ "Upgrading to Windows 7: frequently asked questions". Microsoft. Retrieved February 12, 2016.
  28. ^ "Windows Anytime Upgrades". Amazon. Retrieved September 14, 2009.
  29. ^ "Ultimate steal – Windows 7 Premium ok for Windows 7 Starter?". Microsoft. February 2, 2010. Archived from the original on January 31, 2011. Retrieved August 13, 2010.
  30. ^ "Windows 7 Student upgrade". Microsoft. December 20, 2009. Archived from the original on August 2, 2012. Retrieved August 13, 2010.
  31. ^ "Windows 7 Editions – Features on Parade". Softpedia. February 5, 2009. Retrieved February 5, 2009.
  32. ^ "Windows 7: Which Edition is Right For You?". PCWorld. February 3, 2009. Retrieved February 5, 2009.
  33. ^ Bott, Ed (June 3, 2009). "From Starter to Ultimate: What's really in each Windows 7 Edition?". ZDNet. Retrieved August 14, 2009.
  34. ^ a b Schuster, Gavriella (September 1, 2009). "Which Windows 7 Is Best for You?". Microsoft. Retrieved August 1, 2010.
  35. ^ a b "Physical Memory Limits: Windows 7". Microsoft Developer Network. October 14, 2010. Retrieved November 1, 2010.
  36. ^ "Windows 7 System Requirements". Retrieved September 29, 2010.
  37. ^ "Windows Media Player 12". Windows 7 Features. Microsoft Corporation. Retrieved October 22, 2011.
  38. ^ Tulloch, Mitch; Northrup, Tony; Honeycutt, Jerry (2010). Windows 7 Resource Kit. Redmond, Washington: Microsoft Press. pp. 29–30. ISBN 978-0-7356-4277-5.
  39. ^ a b c d e f Windows 7 N Edition does not include Windows Media Player.
  40. ^ "Where are my games?". Microsoft. Retrieved July 30, 2014.
  41. ^ Which one is right for you? – Microsoft Windows
  42. ^ "You cannot select or format a hard disk partition when you try to install Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2". Microsoft. September 14, 2007. Retrieved December 17, 2009.
  43. ^ a b c d Windows 7 Product Guide
  44. ^ Terminal services team (June 23, 2009). "Aero Glass Remoting in Windows Server 2008 R2". Microsoft. Retrieved September 16, 2009.
  45. ^ a b Terminal Services Team (August 21, 2009). "Remote Desktop Connection 7 for Windows 7, Windows XP & Windows Vista". Microsoft. Retrieved October 27, 2009.
  46. ^ "Microsoft Windows Enterprise: Windows 7 Features". Microsoft. Retrieved November 24, 2009.
  47. ^ 6292A Installing and Configuring Windows 7 Client: Microsoft. p14. Part Number X17-37160 Released 10/2009
  48. ^ Shultz, Greg (September 17, 2012). "Native VHD Boot is available in all versions of Windows 7". TechRepublic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
  49. ^ "Why buy Windows 7 Ultimate?". Microsoft. Archived from the original on July 18, 2011. Retrieved August 9, 2011.
  50. ^ a b c "Windows 7 language packs are available for computers that are running Windows 7 Ultimate or Windows 7 Enterprise". Microsoft. Retrieved August 19, 2011.

Further reading[edit]

  1. "Windows 7 Lineup Offers Clear Choice for Consumers and Businesses". Microsoft News Center. Redmond, Washington: Microsoft. February 3, 2009. Retrieved July 10, 2018.
  2. "Brief: Licensing Windows 7 for Use with Virtual Machine Technologies" (.docx). Microsoft Volume Licensing. Microsoft. March 2010. Retrieved June 6, 2011.
  3. Thurrott, Paul (October 6, 2010). "Windows 7 Product Editions: A Comparison". Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows. Retrieved June 6, 2011.