By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2006-10-23 Print this article Print

As for the other differences between Business and Enterprise, Im hard pressed to see any that are worthwhile. Since Enterprise will only be available through SA (Software Assurance) contracts, its impossible to say anything about price-comparisons except that it will be more expensive than business.
Other than that, what you get with Enterprise is Virtual PC, a virtualization program that can only run up to four instances of Vista or another operating system; a multi-language user interface; the SUA (Subsystem for UNIX-Based Applications); and the CornerStone Secure Startup/full volume encryption security technologies.
Im hard-pressed to see any pressing need from enterprise users for paying extra for any of this functionality. For all that theres a lot of talk about virtualization, unless youre a developer or a software tester, theres not a lot of use for virtualization on the desktop. On the same note, if you really want to run a Unix or Linux application on your PC, youre a lot better off doing it with VMware running instances of both operating systems than using SUA. And CornerStone? Yes, since laptops with secrets on them seem to be disappearing every day, an encrypted hard drive is certainly a good idea. However, if the revised EFS isnt enough protection, than youve got bigger security problems than CornerStone is going to solve. Sometime after Vista ships, Enterprise customers will also get Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack for Software Assurance. Right now, its full of vague promises. Like what does "applications are delivered on-demand to clients, improving the time it takes to recover users from desktop failures" really mean? And, whats delivering them anyway. Windows Live? Others sound more like the kind of nonsense Ive been hearing for years from all vendors. For example, "IT help desk call volume is dramatically reduced by eliminating application conflicts. Users have a more reliable desktop experience." Yeah! Right on! But, oh does that mean if I buy Business instead of Enterprise I dont get a more reliable desktop experience? Some of this, like the built-in software inventory module, may be useful for some companies. Click here to read more about the software inventory module. Personally, I find it hard to imagine paying extra for vague promises and software inventory when any enterprise should already have that functionality well in hand. Unless you have a really pressing need for one of the more concrete Enterprise features, I wouldnt bother with it. Finally, theres Ultimate which includes all the consumer stuff, like the Movie Maker and Media Center functionality along with all the business goodies. Its also, what a surprise, the most expensive of all of the Vistas. Read more here about Vista pricing. Vista Ultimate is expected to run a hefty $399 full retail, with an upgrade price of $259. Its bottom-line time. For home users, Home Premium is the Vista to buy. Business users should just buy Business Vista, and, unless Microsoft can come up with better reasons, avoid Enterprise. Oh, but before I go, let me add that the Linux and Mac desktops, are every bit as good now, if not better, than Vista will be tomorrow. So long as youre seriously thinking about upgrading your PCs, you really should consider the non-Microsoft alternatives. You may just be surprised at how good they are these days. Ziff Davis Internets Linux and Open-Source Linux Editor Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has been working and writing about technology and business since the late 80s and thinks he may just have learned something about them along the way.

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Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor at large for Ziff Davis Enterprise. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.

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