Looking at the differences between the various Windows 7 product editions--the easiest and most accurate way is to check out my article, Windows 7 Product Editions: A Comparison--one thing stands out very clearly. The sweet spot in this Windows version is Home Premium, which represents a major leap forward compared to the low-end Starter edition. But Home Premium, for all its goodness, is still missing a few key features.

Using Windows Anytime Upgrade (see my Feature Focus article), it's possible to upgrade from Windows 7 Home Premium to Professional for $89.95 That would buy such additional features as network backup, Remote Desktop Host, offline files support, and domain join.


  Starter Home Premium Pro Enterprise & Ultimate
Backup to network     Yes Yes
Remote Desktop Host     Yes Yes
Offline files     Yes Yes


Making Windows 7 Home Premium the Ultimate OS
Windows Anytime Upgrade.

If you're willing to pay $139.95, you can upgrade to Windows 7 Ultimate. That adds BitLocker full disk encryption and Bitlocker To Go encryption for portable devices. (If you're already using Windows 7 Professional, the WUA upgrade price for Ultimate is $129.95.)


  Starter Home Premium Pro Enterprise & Ultimate
BitLocker       Yes
BitLocker To Go       Yes

The problem of course is that these features don't really justify the price hike to upgrade to Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate. (In the case of domain join, of course, you either need it or you don't. And if you do, you will need at least Windows 7 Professional.)

So I began looking around for third party replacements for these features, preferably free replacements. And thanks to SuperSite readers and Windows Weekly listeners, I've found some pretty decent replacements. Not all of them are free, but most are. And certainly they're worth investigating, regardless. Depending on which additional features you want or need, you will almost certainly save money even if you end up paying for a tool or too.

Here's what we found.

Continue to Part 2: Backup and Sync