Strange but true: it is not easy to purchase a new computer with Windows Vista Business installed on it. It’s virtually impossible to find Vista Business on any computer sold in a retail store, and even Dell’s Small Business division installs Vista Home on many computers, with a “suggestion” that you might want Vista Business instead.

It’s worth being careful, because Vista Business is almost certainly the version you want in your office – even a home office. Vista Business supports Remote Desktop connections, includes a fax and scanner wizard that can be genuinely helpful, includes shadow copy (I’ll write that up soon – it’s a killer), and it is required in any business running a server (including Microsoft Small Business Server).

It will be possible to upgrade a Vista Home computer and get those features, but the price will be high. There is no upgrade path from Vista Home Basic/Premium to Vista Business. The only option is an upgrade to Vista Ultimate, at $159/199. Here’s a blog describing the upgrade options.

The situation is improved in some respects from Windows XP, where the upgrade from XP Home to XP Professional is next to impossible without wiping out the hard drive for a fresh install. Vista supports the “Anytime Upgrade” which does an in-place upgrade in a slick way. But it’s a bunch of money that can be avoided if you think ahead and insist on Vista Business when you buy a new office computer.

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