Different types of Windows operating systems

Microsoft offers two main categories of Windows operating systems: operating systems designed for individual computers, and those designed for servers. Within the two categories, several versions are available, each addressed to different types of users.

Microsoft offers two main categories of Windows operating systems: operating systems designed for individual computers, and those designed for servers. Within the two categories, several versions are available, each addressed to different types of users.

Operating systems for computers

Microsoft’s operating systems for computers are widely used in desktop PCs and laptops. Microsoft periodically publishes a new generation of the Windows operating system, the most recent of which, as of the date of publication, is Windows 7.

Windows 7, like previous versions of the operating system, such as XP and Vista, is available in variants designed for personal computers and business teams. An important difference between Home and Business editions is the ability to join computers to Windows domain networks.

Editions

Microsoft provides detailed information online to help you compare the exact features available within each of the Windows editions, for both computers and servers. Use this information to evaluate each version according to your personal needs and determine if you need an “Ultimate” or “Enterprise” version (higher cost) or if a “Starter” or “Foundation Edition” is sufficient (cheaper versions).

Purchase

There are several purchase options for Windows operating systems. New equipment and servers are often sold with an OEM copy (original equipment manufacturer) pre-installed from Windows and included in the purchase price. Windows operating systems are also sold as products packaged by retailers and as part of a Microsoft licensing agreement, which is the most popular purchase method among companies that obtain multiple copies of Windows.

License terms

Complex licensing rules and restrictions determine exactly how Windows can be used when purchasing through each method. For example, OEM software can only be used with the equipment it was purchased with, and can not be transferred to new hardware. Check with your distributor or Microsoft to establish the terms of the license.

References