• Windows 7 Starter Edition
  • Windows 7 Home Basic
  • Windows 7 Home Premium
  • Windows 7 Professional
  • Windows 7 Enterprise
  • Windows 7 Ultimate

Ugh.

Those are the six versions that Microsoft plans to unveil when Windows 7 launches, according to All About Microsoft’s Mary-Jo Foley. Yes, there will be six versions of Windows to choose from, something that will undoubtedly add to the confusion of those trying to upgrade once again.

It’s hard not to agree with Microsoft Watch’s Joe Wilcox when he says “Six Sevens is Five Too Many.” But as I’ve noted before, given Microsoft’s huge installed base, I think it would be okay to have two versions of Windows 7, a home and a professional version (as it used to do for Windows XP), and Microsoft seems to somewhat realize that by saying the emphasis will be placed on only two of the versions (Home Premium and Professional). But why bother with the other four versions?

I’m sure Microsoft has their reasons, but at the end of the day, it needs a better public reaction to the OS than Windows Vista received — and there is simply no way this will help. And as Wilcox notes, if you count the 32-bit and 64-bit versions, there are actually eleven different versions of Windows. Before the product has even launched, Microsoft is failing the K-I-S-S rule: Keep It Simple Stupid.

It ultimately may not matter too much as long as Windows 7 is a better product than Vista (which after my initial time with the OS, it certainly seems to be), but it once again shows that Microsoft is still doesn’t seem to understand how to market its products for consumers. The idea that choice is a good thing works well for very simple things, like colors, but it doesn’t necessarily work well for more complex things — like operating systems.

Do I want Windows 7 Home Basic, Home Premium or Ultimate? I have no idea. If pressed with the same options, neither will many consumers.