Microsoft's reduced pre-order pricing for upgrade versions of Windows 7 Home Premium and Professional remains in effect until July 11th, but you might be wondering, 'Am I better off picking up a copy of Ultimate?' At $219 for the upgrade disc and $319 for the full version, compared to as little as $50 for Premium (pre-order Upgrade), that becomes a big (or at least costly) decision. We won't tell you which copy to get, but while Microsoft peddles Windows 7 Ultimate to enthusiasts, let's look at what the extra Benjamin(s)+ buys you.
Windows 7 Ultimate brings to the table several features not found in the Premium and Professional versions, at least eight of them that we know about. Three of them include BranchCache, Enterprise Search, and DirectAccess, all of which are of much more interest to Enterprise environments than for a typical home user. For the latter group, the full language pack, Bitlocker, and AppLocker might hold a bit more appeal.
That leaves Virtual Desktop Interface and Virtual Hard Drive Booting as the two remaining known features that only Ultimate users will have access to, plus whatever "Unspecified Features" Microsoft has on tap.
"There is a small set of customers who want everything Windows 7 has to offer. So, we will continue to have Windows 7 Ultimate Edition to meet that specialized need," Windows General Manager Mike Ybarra stated in a Microsoft PressPass interview describing Ultimate as the OS for "enthusiasts."