Windows 8 editions revealed: Two retail, one for ARM, one for enterprise

By on April 16, 2012, 8:39 PM

Confirming previous rumors about simplified SKUs, Microsoft has announced that its latest operating system will come in three consumer flavors: Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro and Windows RT (stands for runtime). The first two will be available at retail, while the third will only be preinstalled on ARM-based devices. This has been reduced from four retail editions of Windows Vista and three for Windows 7.

All three have the same core features and the average user would likely have a tough time telling them apart. "Windows 8" is intended as the base offering and it seems analogous to previous "Home" editions. It has virtually all the upgrades we've discussed, like the updated Task Manager and Windows Explorer, better multi-monitor support, Sky Drive integration, improved power efficiency and more.

"Windows 8 Pro" has some extra perks meant for tech enthusiasts and professionals, such as access to BitLocker and BitLocker To Go, Client Hyper-V, Group Policy controls, as well as the ability to host via Remote Desktop and boot from VHD. Again, nothing the average user is likely to need, though it's worth noting that the Pro edition is required to upgrade from Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate.

"Windows RT" (also known as Windows on ARM or WOA) won't be available as a standalone retail OS and since it's mostly geared toward tablets, Microsoft made some mobile-oriented tweaks. Most notably, the company mentions touch-optimized desktop versions of Office applications including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. It also gains device encryption, but loses Windows Media Player.

Outside consumer offerings, there will be an Enterprise edition that contains everything in Windows 8 Pro with added features for IT organization that "enable PC management and deployment, advanced security, virtualization, new mobility scenarios, and much more." Pricing hasn't been shared yet, but we'd be surprised to see a significant deviation from previous rates. The full feature chart is below:

Feature name Windows 8 Windows 8 Pro Windows RT
Upgrades from Windows 7 Starter,
Home Basic, Home Premium

x

x

 
Upgrades from Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate   x  
Start screen, Semantic Zoom, Live Tiles x x x
Windows Store x x x
Apps (Mail, Calendar, People, Messaging,
Photos, SkyDrive, Reader, Music, Video)
x x x
Microsoft Office (Word, Excel,
PowerPoint, OneNote)
    x
Internet Explorer 10 x x x
Device encryption     x
Connected standby x x x
Microsoft account x x x
Desktop x x x
Installation of x86/64
and desktop software
x x  
Updated Windows Explorer x x x
Windows Defender x x x
SmartScreen x x x
Windows Update x x x
Enhanced Task Manager x x x
Switch languages on the fly
(Language Packs)
x x x
Better multiple monitor support x x x
Storage Spaces x x  
Windows Media Player x x  
Exchange ActiveSync x x x
File history x x x
ISO / VHD mount x x x
Mobile broadband features x x x
Picture password x x x
Play To x x x
Remote Desktop (client) x x x
Reset and refresh your PC x x x
Snap x x x
Touch and Thumb keyboard x x x
Trusted boot x x x
VPN client x x x
BitLocker and BitLocker To Go   x  
Boot from VHD   x  
Client Hyper-V   x  
Domain Join   x  
Encrypting File System   x  
Group Policy   x  
Remote Desktop (host)   x  



User Comments: 38

Got something to say? Post a comment
ikesmasher said:

Gonna laugh when tablet sales for windows 8 is not half as much as MS is expecting.

Guest said:

Going to laugh when Windows 8 tablets eclipse iPad sales within 1 year.

lawfer, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Gonna laugh when tablet sales for windows 8 is not half as much as MS is expecting.

Pretty sure this will not be the case.

Windows 8 on desktop might still be tricky, but on ARM tablets? Think again.

m4a4 m4a4 said:

Heh, I figured they would not go overboard with the versions. Aaaaaand that's why you don't believe rumors people

Going to be an interesting launch for both desktop and tablet...

Chazz said:

So many people bashed MS for so many windows versions, it's surprising those same people aren't rejoicing in this thread. ....Actually, no it's not.

Guest said:

i won't get it till they bring back start menu like windows 7 classic mode i like the feel of classic feel more than this new crap even windows 7 i set it to classic mode i expect cause windows is forcing everyone to use this new start page most people will not buy it and it will be another vista, windows me flap. MS exec's if something works and people like it don't mess with it. start page would fine if it was only for mobile like android computers but it not for the everyday or gamers or IT workers using notebooks and desktops and lot of us don't want to learn something new to access are files that why im going keep using windows 7 till ms exec make a change or i await the next ver of windows that has it back in there.

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I'll probably wait for Windows 9. I do hope they bring back a "classic" mode. Still, it's nice to see fewer versions.

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Going to laugh when Windows 8 tablets eclipse iPad sales within 1 year.

It isn't about ipad, IMO if MS get things right, it may closes the door on android in tablet market, leaving MS and Apple to fight it out.

Marnomancer Marnomancer said:

For tablets, Metro seems somewhat better than Aero. But as we've already concluded here in another discussion, Win8 on the desktop seems imponderable unless MS cedes to the enthusiasts' demands/suggestions.

Guest said:

Correctly said.

Guest said:

Having downloaded the consumer trial version of Windows 8 all I can say is whilst it may be a fantastic phone and tablet OS, for the desktop application it is total and utter crap. It just is not going to work. Trying to find your way around the interface is just ridiculous how it is set up. Regardless of what anyone says phones and tablets and desktops are totally different beasts. There is absolutely no way on this earth I would use that on my desktop, I would go Linux first or remain with Windows 7.

sapo joe said:

I'd very much like a "NM" edition... "NM" standing for NO METRO edition.

M$, wake up... You're losing like at least ONE THIRD of the sales pushing the crappy metro interface on us...

Guest said:

I think were kinda missing the point... Windows 8 is something new and interesting from MS, something they have not tried to do since the first release of Windows. Why is everyone bashing Metro, when they don't even have to use it. While the start button might be gone its not like its the end of the world, I'm fine without it on my Mac, its not like Ms is a group of ******, there is a good reason in the interface for them to remove it. Also i don't think that Ms's objective is directly contesting Apple, Android proved that that would be a great failure. It seems like everyone is treating this like another apple (no pun intended) when its an orange.

treeski treeski said:

I'll pick up Windows 8 for sure, and sometime in 2013 probably get a tablet. The new start screen is straight up not amazing for desktop users, but it's also really not a hinderance. I found Win 8 very easy to get used to. It looks different, but the functionality is really the same. Most of my daily apps are pinned to the task bar anyway, which is still available in Win 8.

Cota Cota said:

I'd very much like a "NCMI" edition... "NCMI" standing for NO CRAPPY METRO INTERFACE edition.

Fixed!

Guest said:

Sad. I was w8ng for Win 8 tablet so that I can say goodbye to windows laptop and transfer my working to a tablet. But since Win 8 tablets wont support desktop software, I guess I shud stop w8ng and go for Note 10.1

1 person liked this | SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

I think it would be cool to have Windows 8 ARM available for purchase. That could open up another front in the ultra low power home PC market. Via C-processors and Intel Atoms already have their place in some HTPCs or at least Windows Home Server PCs.

Although I suppose there are 2 major things dampening this; 1, driver support (real important if you are going to use it as a HTPC) and 2, education - I bet a lot of people would purchase the ARM version for their 64bit PC and throw a fit when it didn't work.

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

From what I understood initially, only legacy desktop software (x86 versions) were going to be incompatible with the tablet version of Windows 8, but any Win8 software would work on any Win8 platform. Is this something that they changed, and now absolutely no desktop software will run on the tablet version? If so, that's a mighty stupid move on the part of MS...

Guest said:

Yeah but the real question on everyones mine is how much for the version with the start menu included? All these other versions seem pointless...

Guest said:

i don't really get it why people bash windows 8 for the metro interface and the lack of a start menu when OS stability should be the primary focus.

windows 8 boots faster and is more secure than ever.

to windows 8 bashers, go back to your windows 95/98/2000/me/xp interface.

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

^ Guest - register and come to the main forums. We have a big discussion on Win 8 in the Windows OS forum. I'm one of the Win 8 supporters here. The benefits 8 brings over 7 and Vista outweigh the few seconds it takes to understand the new Start menu/metro interface. In breif - everything that you install that would have made a start menu entry also makes something in Metro, but in metro you see lots at once without many submenus to go through. That is good. If you have more crap than you can fit on your 22"+ widescreen metro interface then you are also going to have issues with the traditional start menu. If that is true, then you have developed workarounds/shortcuts - those same workarounds/shortcuts still work in Win 8.

avoidz avoidz said:

i don't really get it why people bash windows 8 for the metro interface and the lack of a start menu when OS stability should be the primary focus.

windows 8 boots faster and is more secure than ever.

to windows 8 bashers, go back to your windows 95/98/2000/me/xp interface.

What's the first thing you encounter when using a Windows computer? The interface. The 95 and onwards style works really well and it is well liked. When it is completely changed and dumbed down and unintuitive on a desktop it fails. Windows 7 is stable and secure.

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

Unintuitive? Like seeing a screen full of a ton of apps that you use and then being able to open them with one click? That kind of unintuitiveness?

2 people like this | Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I have to side with SNGX1275 on the "unintuitive" comment there... For a new user, there is absolutely nothing more unintuitive than forcing someone to go click a start button, slog through a bunch of entries, and hunt for the program you want buried in folders there.

Keep in mind, Win8 is also aiming to grab some of the newer and less tech savvy crowds that gadgets like smartphones and iPad-like devices have brought into the marketplace. In that arena, the Metro interface is a nice option to make things more "single click" like the smart appliances people are using every day. Microsoft sort of assumes they will keep the majority of their current users, who can learn to adapt. It's the users that are new that they want to woo with slick features.

1 person liked this | m4a4 m4a4 said:

I'd say that SNGX1275 is one of the more informed people concerning Windows 8 as he actually understands how it is indeed better than 7 (as in was willing to look past the unfamiliarity of metro).

Metro can be used as a bigger, more customizable "start menu" if you do it properly... (heck, it literally is a start menu as it is there when you start up...)

Tor Oncio said:

oh boy.. noone trold MS that windows 8 is a no go ?

Guest said:

Its a matter of processor architecture, in the same way x64 applications won't run on an x86 CPU. ARM is a completely different chipset.

Guest said:

Windows 8 may be great for tablets however since I'm a desktop user, I'll stick to Windows 7 or Linux.

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

Its a matter of processor architecture, in the same way x64 applications won't run on an x86 CPU. ARM is a completely different chipset.

That is a good reply. In one of my earlier posts in this thread I mentioned how I would like to see the ARM version available for purchase by regular people (not OEMs). But I cited confusion and drivers as issues why it is unlikely to happen.

But shortly after I posted that I was thinking. It isn't impossible to make this work. Apple made the shift in the 90s from 68000 based processors to PowerPC while keeping the same OS and pretty good compatibility with apps. Then they did it again in 2006 with the shift from PowerPC (ppc) to Intel (x86) processors. So its technically possible to write for both architectures, it probably isn't worth Microsoft's time or money to do it for such a small audience that would want to see cross compatibility.

tabbymulla said:

A small audience???????????????????

I think desktops and laptops, netbooks have more audience than the 100 times for tablets and if tablet can run all that desktops, laptops and netbooks can run, then u have >100+1 times the audience for the tablet which is definitely worth it.

Oh, I guess microsoft dont have the skill and ability to do such things like Apple can do. Looks like Apple will introduce this technology b4 Microsoft.

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

I don't understand your post.

It is a small audience that would like to run an ARM version on a home PC. Sure there are a lot of people using ARMs on mobile devices, and MS is allowing 8 to run on that. What they aren't doing is selling 8 for ARM to people like us.

And I'm also confused by your last line. I think you are manufacturing outrage here and your dislike of Apple has clouded your mind. Apple already did this way before Microsoft, but that wasn't my point at all. My point was that it is technically feasible to make it happen, but I didn't think that it makes sense for Microsoft to do it because there are relatively few people that would benefit from it. Apple only did it in the past because they were forced to, I don't know the specifics on the 68000 to ppc, but they moved to Intel because they had to. The ppc G4s and G5s just weren't able to compete with the x86 processors from AMD and Intel on a performance, power/heat level anymore.

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

There is probably another aspect to consider in the ARM version debate... As companies like Intel and AMD are scaling down to compete with ARM on the mobile front, ARM is working on scaling up with intentions of more desktop-ish platforms. So, at some point in the near future, we could be looking at ARM desktops being a real viable possibility. Low cost, low power draw, basically a decent fit for the simpler workstation needs that are out there. Also an interesting possibility in a mainstream HTPC type of product line. So, it may end up that Microsoft really should be considering more cross-over with the ARM version, and making it available to a wider consumer base than just on OEM tablets. ARM is a juggernaut that many underestimate, and if you remove part of the software bias towards x86 that exists (primarily in business), there is potential for a serious shoot-out with the x86 platform in general.

sapo joe said:

I'd very much like a "NCMI" edition... "NCMI" standing for NO CRAPPY METRO INTERFACE edition.

Fixed!

LOL

sapo joe said:

I'm getting it... The Metro interface works well for VERY STUPID people. The don't know how to use a computer, and have to use an interface with very large colored squares... You know, like kinder garden...

ViperSniper2 said:

Gonna laugh when ARM Windows Tablets come out competing directly with Android and iOS Tablets and get crushed by a far more versatile and desktop like Windows 8 OS. You know it's coming and nobody really believes that Windows 8 Tablets are going to fail except ****** and other brainwashed morons!

We're talking about a full cross platform experience with the base OS already owning most all people's computing needs with 90% Worldwide Computer Market penetration. No Google or Apple written OS will ever achieve that kind of real world domination anytime soon, if ever! ....and when I can basically run the same OS on my Desktops to Mobiles with both WP8 and Windows 8 installed at the factory under different brands, what do you think they are all going to be pushing you to buy in all the malls and shopping centers? Yeah.... Microsoft is making sure that everyone knows they are still the largest Software Company in the World by far!!!

tabbymulla said:

Can Win Pro be installed on Tablets?

tabbymulla said:

Will Win 8 enable me to play WOT on a Tablet?

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

WOT = War on Terror ...... arrr I mean ....... World of Tanks?

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