Windows 8 will remain Windows 8. Yes! Microsoft has officially announced that Windows 8 is the official product name of their next Operating System which is currently in beta. There has been a lot of speculation on the editions of Windows 8 when it will be launched. If you go through Windows 8 Consumer Preview registry, you’ll still see the following editions added in the registry:
- Microsoft Windows 8 32 Edition
- Microsoft Windows 8 64 Edition
- Microsoft Windows 8 Enterprise 32 Edition
- Microsoft Windows 8 Enterprise 64 Edition
- Microsoft Windows 8 Professional 32 Edition
- Microsoft Windows 8 Professional 64 Edition
But this was just guess work and prediction. Microsoft has finally released details about the editions of Windows 8 which will be available after release to manufacturing. The good news is that Windows 8 will not come with confusing and technically complex SKUs (Stock Keeping Units). This will help in choosing the right edition of Windows 8 for consumers.
Windows 8 will come in the following editions:
- Windows 8
- Windows 8 Pro
- Windows 8 RT
- Windows 8 Enterprise
Let’s first discuss in more detail about each edition of Windows 8 then we’ll show one to one feature comparison of each edition of Windows. This will make everything clear about each edition.
Windows 8 is the standard edition which will run on x86/x64 tablet and desktop processors. This will most probably be the equivalent of Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic and Home Premium editions. This edition of Windows will consist of all the features of Windows 8 that a single user needs including updated Windows Explorer, task manager and better multi-monitor support. Users will be able to upgrade to Windows 8 standard edition from Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic and Home Premium editions.
One thing to note here is that there will be a separate localized edition of Windows 8 specifically for China and a small set of emerging markets not mentioned by Microsoft now.
Windows 8 Pro
Windows 8 Pro includes all the features of Windows 8 standard and will also obtain a broader range of Windows 8 technologies geared towards IT professionals and geeks. Some of the additional features that Windows 8 Pro will include are BitLocker technology, Boot from VHD, joining a domain, EFS (Encrypting File System, group policy, remote desktop etc.
Windows 8 RT
Windows 8 RT (not to be confused with WinRT (Windows Runtime)) is a new edition added to Windows 8 and will be able to be installed on ARM or WOA based devices. This edition of Windows 8 will probably not be available for sale separately but will only be pre-installed on selective PCs and tablets. Windows 8 RT will come with touch optimized versions of Microsoft Office.
Windows 8 Enterprise
As always, Windows 8 Enterprise edition will include all the features of Windows 8 Pro plus features for IT organizations to enable central PC management and deployment. This edition of Windows is generally meant for organizations only.
The pricing structure of Windows 8 is yet to be revealed and Microsoft says it will reveal the pricing structure very soon.
Windows 8 Editions feature comparison
Now let’s do a visual comparison of features of each Windows 8 edition:
|Feature name||Windows 8||Windows 8 Pro||Windows RT|
|Upgrades from Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium||
|Upgrades from Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate||x|
|Start screen, Semantic Zoom, Live Tiles||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|
|Installation of x86/64 and desktop software||x||x|
|Updated Windows Explorer||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|
|Windows Media Player||x||x|
|ISO / VHD mount||x||x||x|
|Mobile broadband features||x||x||x|
|Remote Desktop (client)||x||x||x|
|Reset and refresh your PC||x||x||x|
|Touch and Thumb keyboard||x||x||x|
|BitLocker and BitLocker To Go||x|
|Boot from VHD||x|
|Encrypting File System||x|
|Remote Desktop (host)||x|
For more information about the editions of Windows 8, please refer to the blog post on Microsoft team blog.