Compared to Windows Vista, Java choices are simple
If you're a Windows user, you have a choice to make. Which version of Windows Vista do you need or want? Will you choose Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, Ultimate, or Enterprise? Oh, and don't forget Home Starter for those emerging markets...not available in the U.S. or other strong economies. As Java developers, we can't make a perfect comparison. Vista is more like a consumer product, and the Java Development Kit (JDK) is a developer product. But, still, we have easier, much more obvious choices when we upgrade.
The Java platform is available in 3 flavors: ME, SE, and EE. The choices are easy. If you want to develop for cell phones, PDAs, or other small, memory constrained devices, you'll want ME. For standard personal computers and desktop applications, give me the Standard Edition (SE) please. And if you're working with enterprise applications, I'll take the Enterprise Edition (EE), thank you very much. Easy. Easy.
Each Java platform offers developers significant advantages, whether it be a smaller memory footprint, a beautiful graphical interface, or support for transactions and web services. The distinctions are obvious, and the trade-offs are easy to understand. But Vista? Wow! I'm confused.
I have an aging XP system, and I think I need one of the Home versions, but I'm not sure. My home system isn't for business, so I don't think I need that. However, I do perform backups on occasion. It would be nice to have the backup support of the Business edition. And I do like to connect to my employer via VPN sometimes. That's business edition, right? However, if I get the Business edition, does that mean I can't easily cut DVDs, play music, and rip music cds? I want it all...ok that means I want the Ultimate edition, right? And does the Enterprise version mean it's optimized as a server? Or does that mean that I'm a business user in a larger enterprise? More confusion.
I suppose I don't have to worry much about it though. My primary apps have always been a browser, email app, editor, and the JDK. I can run those on any of those Vista configurations. If my customers (other Java developers) have the same needs, I guess the choice of OS won't matter much to them either. They won't even need to bother with Vista choices...they can pick Linux, Solaris, or even Mac OS X (with some restrictions). The Java platform makes your choice of OS trivial, even insignificant. And it's free!