My initial reaction to this was very negative. Can Microsoft really “screw up” again? But the more I thought about it, more it became clear that if Microsoft pushes the marketing dollars in the right places, namely Home Premium and Professional, then there shouldn’t be a real issue with the number of SKUs.
There are so many tiny features that need to be looked at to see how much impact, if any a user will face between Home Premium and Professional so I’ll save that for a separate post. The biggest sticking point for me however is the lack of BitLocker support throughout each OS SKU. At a time, when data privacy, data theft, and security are increasingly important for everyone, I don’t understand why Microsoft doesn’t have a BitLocker Lite feature in the lesser SKUs. Strong encryption of personally identifiable information should be the standard today not the exception. Although there are free alternatives to full drive encryption like TrueCrypt, they do not provide the enterprise grade manageability that Bitlocker has, but like I implied, home users don’t need those features, they just need the encryption.
On a highly positive note, Media Center will be in Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate! YAY! I love using media center libraries to WOW audiences at presentations.
Finally, regardless of the community cries over the number of SKUs, I think the OEM world will settle down just like they did with XP Home and XP Pro. The only real people this creates a problem for are the Microsoft sales guys and resellers, so consumers rejoice!
Once again though, the message that Microsoft is sending to small businesses is that it doesn't care anymore about this space.
If we want direct access and branch cache ability, we have to buy the more expensive and less supported (as it's seen as a consumer OS) Ultimate sku.
Once again they are pointing to "feedback" in helping them make these sku decisions.
I'm not convinced that they are listening to the needs of small businesses. My space will once again, walk into Best buy, buy the Home premium and walk out without domain join and other tools they need for a small network. Then they will have to buy Ultimate upgrade because you can't 'upgrade' to Professional from Home premium.