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Windows Vista comes in several editions. Each offers specific features. For instance, Media Center is available in Windows Vista Home Premium and Vista Ultimate, but not in Windows Basic or Windows Business. Remote Desktop Connection is available in Windows Business and Ultimate editions, but not in Basic or Premium. That said, the edition you have may not be the edition you need. If, after browsing through this article, you decide you need to upgrade your edition, I'll show you how with Windows Anytime Upgrade.
First you need to be positive about the edition you have. To find out, click Start, right-click Computer, and click Properties. At the top of the System window, locate the Windows Edition section. [See Image 1]
Now take a look at the list here, to see what features your edition includes, and what other editions offer. There are four:
Windows Vista Basic - As you might assume, this is the most basic edition of Windows Vista. While you do get necessary security features, network connectivity tools, Internet Explorer, and the new Search features, that's about it. You don't get Media Center, Aero, Windows Meeting Space, Windows Fax and Scan, or Windows DVD Maker, among other things. You do have everything you need to perform basic computing tasks like e-mailing, creating documents, uploading and managing pictures and videos, and surfing the Web, though, and if that's all you need, you're good to go.
Windows Vista Home Premium - This is an upgrade to Windows Vista Basic and includes all of the basic features, but you also get Aero, mobility and Tablet PC support for laptops and portable PCs, Media Center, the ability to create scheduled backups. You also get Windows DVD Maker, additional games, Windows Meeting Space, and Windows DVD Maker.
Windows Vista Business - This is also an upgrade to Windows Vista Basic, but is more business-oriented than Home Premium. In this edition you get Aero, mobility and Tablet PC support, a backup program that you can use to back up your entire PC, Windows Fax and Scan, Remote Desktop, and Windows Meeting Space. It does not include Windows Media Center, the additional games included in Home Premium, or the ability to create movies in high-definition, because you probably shouldn't be watching TV, playing cool games, or burning high-definition DVDs at work.
Windows Vista Ultimate - This is the ultimate in Windows Vista editions. With this edition you get everything in all of the other editions plus BitLocker encryption, tablet and touch technology, Windows Ultimate Extras, language packs, and secure online backup, just to name a few.
If you think you'd like to have a different edition of Windows Vista, upgrade. With Windows Anytime Upgrade you can upgrade your PC from the comfort of your own home or office. During the upgrade review process, you'll be informed if your PC needs upgrading as well. For instance, if you move from Basic to Home Premium, you'll probably have to purchase and install a TV tuner card so you can use Media Center to watch TV. You'll run across issues most likely, and it'll be up to you to weigh the pros and cons of upgrading.
To use Windows Anytime Upgrade to first analyze your PC to see if an upgrade is possible, and then to perform the actual upgrade:
1. Click the Start button, and in the Start Search dialog box, type Windows Anytime Upgrade.
2. Under Programs, click Windows Anytime Upgrade.
Important: You won't find Windows Anytime Upgrade on Windows Vista Ultimate edition PCs. There's nothing to upgrade to!
3. Click Compare the editions of Windows Vista. Read the information offered. [See Image 2]
What happens next is dependent on the changes Microsoft has made to the process since the writing of this article. For now:
4. Look for Run the Windows Upgrade Advisor. Download it and click Run (or Open). [See Figure 3]
5. Run the advisor, read the report, and make sure you are fully aware of any additional hardware you may need to use to access additional edition features.
5. Return to the Anytime Upgrade page, select the desired operating system, and click Buy (or Upgrade).
6. Click the Begin Upgrade Process button and follow the directions to pay for and download and install the upgrade.
Windows Anytime Upgrade is a new way to upgrade your edition of Windows without having to go to a store or order a CD or DVD on the internet. Now you can perform an upgrade from the privacy of your own home, and base your decision on the specifications of your PC. It's a huge improvement in upgrading!