Microsoft Outlines Editions of Windows 8

Microsoft has announced its delivery plans for Windows 8, highlighting three primary editions of the operating system: Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro and Windows RT – downplaying an enterprise edition.

Microsoft announced the three official versions for the upcoming release of Windows: Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro and Windows RT.

In an April 16 post on the Windows Team Blog, Brandon LeBlanc, a Windows communications manager at Microsoft, laid out details on the three versions of Windows 8, which actually turn out to be four versions when Windows 8 Enterprise is included in the mix. LeBlanc€™s post includes a detailed chart that breaks down key features by edition.

€œWindows 8 has the flexibility you need -- whether you€™re on an x86/64 or a WOA [Windows on ARM] PC,€ LeBlanc said. €œYou can use a touch screen or a keyboard and mouse €“ and switch anytime. It€™s beautiful, fast, and fluid design is perfect for a wide range of hardware. And you€™ll love browsing through the Windows Store and downloading all the apps you want. And those apps can work together too so you can share photos, maps, contacts, links and whatever else you want faster and easier. All editions of Windows 8 offer a no-compromise experience.€

Windows 8 is the official product name for the next x86/64 editions of Windows, LeBlanc said. €œFor PCs and tablets powered by x86 processors (both 32 and 64 bit), we will have two editions: Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro," LeBlanc said. €œFor many consumers, Windows 8 will be the right choice. It will include all the features above plus an updated Windows Explorer, Task Manager, better multi-monitor support and the ability to switch languages on the fly (more details on this feature can be found in this blog post),which was previously only available in Enterprise/Ultimate editions of Windows. For China and a small set of select emerging markets, we will offer a local language-only edition of Windows 8.€

And Windows 8 Pro is designed to help tech enthusiasts and business/technical professionals obtain a broader set of Windows 8 technologies, LeBlanc noted. €œIt includes all the features in Windows 8 plus features for encryption, virtualization, PC management and domain connectivity,€ he said. €œWindows Media Center will be available as an economical €˜media pack€™ add-on to Windows 8 Pro. If you are an enthusiast or you want to use your PC in a business environment, you will want Windows 8 Pro.€

LeBlanc said Windows RT is the newest member of the Windows family €“ which is also known as Windows on ARM, or WOA, as Microsoft has referred to it previously.

€œThis single edition will only be available pre-installed on PCs and tablets powered by ARM processors and will help enable new thin and lightweight form factors with impressive battery life,€ LeBlanc said. €œWindows RT will include touch-optimized desktop versions of the new Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. For new apps, the focus for Windows RT is development on the new Windows runtime, or WinRT, which we unveiled in September and forms the foundation of a new generation of cloud-enabled, touch-enabled, web-connected apps of all kinds. For more details on WOA, we suggest reading this blog post, which shares more detail on how we have been building Windows 8 to run on the ARM architecture.€

Regarding the Windows 8 Enterprise edition, in a footnote to his post, LeBlanc said:

€œAs with previous versions of Windows, we will also have an edition of Windows 8 specifically for those enterprise customers with Software Assurance agreements. Windows 8 Enterprise includes all the features of Windows 8 Pro plus features for IT organization that enable PC management and deployment, advanced security, virtualization, new mobility scenarios, and much more.€

LeBlanc said Microsoft will continue to share information about Windows 8, including details on pricing and limited-time programs and promotions the company will make available to customers.