What is the difference between Windows 7 Ultimate and Enterprise? There are not a whole lot of differences, but some that should be noted. For the most part, both Windows 7 Ultimate and Enterprise are high-end versions of Windows with most all of the features that Microsoft offers.
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Market for Windows 7 Ultimate and Enterprise Editions
The main difference between Windows 7 Ultimate and Enterprise is the customer that purchases them. Windows 7 Ultimate is the highest version of Windows 7 available to the consumer, or general public. Windows 7 Enterprise on the other hand, is a special version of Windows 7 available to businesses, software development companies, and other large corporations. Thus, you cannot get Windows 7 Enterprise if you are an individual (well you probably can if you try hard enough, but that's not what it's meant for). However, it's not really a loss, because Windows 7 Ultimate, available to consumers, offers just about everything that Windows 7 Enterprise does.
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Windows 7 Enterprise Edition
Companies and businesses that use Windows 7 Enterprise purchase a mass quantity of licenses. They also sign an agreement with Microsoft called a Software Assurance contract, which has a couple of business targeted benefits. For example, companies under this contract can pay for their multiple Windows 7 Enterprise Edition licenses over a specified number of years. They do not have to pay for everything up front. The software agreement also grants these companies free upgrades on Microsoft products for the specified time period. Some additional benefits are:
Free Microsoft IT training and access to several Microsoft online tools and resources.
Allows employees of the company to have a single copy of Microsoft Windows 7 Enterprise for home use free of charge.
Employee discounts on other Microsoft products.
Access to Windows source code (for software development purposes).
24x7 phone and Internet support.
Because Windows 7 Enterprise Edition is tailored to fit multiple computer workstation environments, Enterprise Edition has different install rules. For example, when a company orders 1000 copies of Microsoft Windows 7 Enterprise Edition, they may not actually need 1000 install discs. Thus, they may only get a couple of install discs. However, they also get a VLK (volume license key), which is the golden ticket of Windows 7 activation codes. VLK's are virtually limitless, or else have very high limits. That serial number that you got when you purchased your Dell will only work for one computer. A VLK however, may be set with the limit to activate hundreds of Windows installations.
Aside from your typical installation, and some added corporate features, the main benefit of Windows 7 Enterprise is that it has a multi user interface, BitLocker Drive Encryption, extensive language support, and advanced UNIX application support.
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Windows 7 Ultimate Edition
The highest version of Windows 7 that you can go buy at a store is Windows 7 Ultimate Edition. Obviously, Windows 7 Ultimate does not have things like free training, Microsoft discounts, access to the Windows source code, UNIX application support, or anything like that. However, it does have BitLocker Drive Encryption, multi user support, and extensive language support.