Microsoft has a special price of $99 for an upgrade to Vista Ultimate on PCs purchased from Best Buy, Staples, Circuit City, and Amazon through June, according to Paul Thurrott, normally a well-informed source. (I can’t find any reference to it on the Microsoft web site. Maybe there’s a coupon in the box or something.)

That seemed like a bit of a yawn until an extra piece fell into place, courtesy of Susan Bradley. PCs purchased from one of those stores will undoubtedly have Vista Home Premium installed – and Vista Home Premium cannot be used effectively in any business run by a server. The $99 upgrade to Vista Ultimate allows the computer to be joined to the company domain without the expense and difficulty of buying a copy of Vista Business and wiping the hard drive.

The upgrade offer makes it a little easier to tell the boss about the next step when he or she proudly shows off the computer they bought for themselves at Best Buy.

Here’s information about the versions of Vista if you need a refresher course. In short:

  • Vista Business is required if the computer will be used in a business, and is the preferred choice for many home users.
  • Vista Home Premium is a fine choice for parents or people who are going to focus on multimedia, and perfectly adequate for most home users.
  • Vista Ultimate has everything.
  • Vista Basic will serve if you simply must buy the cheapest computer on the market and have no self-esteem.
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