Many people should buy the Business edition of Windows Vista, even for home computers. Here’s Microsoft’s chart comparing the features of the various versions of Windows Vista, and here’s another one with a few more details. No one should buy Vista Home Basic, so ignore that column. Vista Home Premium and Vista Business are roughly the same cost. Here’s the unique features in each.

WINDOWS VISTA HOME PREMIUM

  • Windows Media Center (the living room interface for sitting across the room using a remote control)

I’ve never seen anyone use the Windows Media Center interface on a computer. I’m one of the rare people using Windows Media Center on a living room computer, purchased specifically for that purpose. If you have an XBox 360, it can connect to a desktop computer running Vista’s Windows Media Center, but no one over 25 cares.

These are nice features. You should buy Vista Home Premium if you might use them.

WINDOWS VISTA BUSINESS

Vista Business periodically makes copies of everything in your document and picture folders and tucks them away – typically twice a day, retaining each copy for a couple of weeks. You can use it to quickly recover deleted files or previous versions of files or folders.

Most people will never send or receive faxes from their computer, but the fax & scan wizard is genuinely helpful for scanning documents or photos. Many people buy inexpensive all-in-one print/scan/copy machines but ignore the scanner because the printer manufacturer’s software is so horrible. The Vista wizard helps get past that.

An additional backup method to create an image of your entire hard drive. Vista’s built-in backup (or OneCare’s nearly identical backup service) is sufficient for most home users, but people who create the “Complete Backup” image will have an unexpectedly quick way to recover from a hard drive failure.

There are other differences that are less important for home users and very small businesses – Vista Business is required for business networks run by a server, for example, and only Vista Business can host Remote Desktop sessions for remote use or support.

If you’re buying a computer for your home, Vista Home Premium is a fine choice. But you don’t give up much if you get Vista Business, and I find Shadow Copy to be pretty darned compelling stuff.