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Microsoft reveals Windows 8 editions

Microsoft reveals Windows 8 editions

Microsoft's plans for Windows 8 include a standard edition, Pro, Enterprise and the ARM-based Windows RT.

Microsoft has officially announced the naming convention for its next-generation of Windows, which - you may be amazed to hear - is definitely going to be called Windows 8.

The unsurprisingly-named replacement for Windows 7 is due to come in two main flavours: Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro. The former, analogous to Windows 7 Home Premium, includes a pretty large sub-set of Windows 8 functionality - including the ability to switch languages on the fly, a feature which was previously limited to Windows 7 Ultimate for no readily apparent reason.

Windows 8 Pro, by contrast, is aimed at what Microsoft describes as 'tech enthusiasts and business/technical professionals.' As well as all the features of the standard Windows 8 release, the Pro version adds in support for virtualisation, disk encryption, and the ability to connect to an Active Directory domain.

Windows 8 Pro will also be joined by Windows 8 Enterprise, an exclusive version only available to customers with a Software Assurance agreement. Packing all the functionality of Windows 8 Pro, the Enterprise release adds in support for centralised PC management and deployment, advanced security features and improved virtualisation support.

The two-and-a-bit standard Windows 8 releases will also be joined by Windows RT, previously known as Windows 8 on ARM (WOA.) Designed for devices using processors from British chip giant ARM, Windows RT will ship with a software bundle which includes touch-optimised versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.

If you're wondering where the name comes from, Microsoft claims it's due to the focus for developers on the Windows Run Time or WinRT. Originally unveiled back in September, WinRT is designed to provide developers with an easy way to get web-connected touch-based applications up and running on an ARM-based Windows system.

From Microsoft's description of Windows RT, one thing is clear: despite companies like Qualcomm teasing ARM-based laptops, Microsoft is positioning Windows RT as a competitor in the tablet marketplace to the likes of Apple's iOS and Google's Android. While there will be ARM-based laptops, they won't be Microsoft's primary focus for Windows RT.

Users considering an upgrade on their x86 system will be pleased to hear that Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro will both be available as an upgrade option from Windows 7 Start, Home Basic and Home Premium. Those who plumped for Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate, however, will be restricted to Windows 8 Pro or a complete system wipe.

The new product line-up does, however, provide a certain clarity missing from previous Windows editions. Compared to the three mainstream releases plus Windows 8 Enterprise, Windows 7 was available in Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise, Ultimate, plus the anti-monopoly K and KN variants.

A near-complete run-down of how the features are split between the different releases is available in the below table.

Feature nameWindows 8Windows 8 ProWindows RT
Upgrades from Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic, Home Premiumxx 
Upgrades from Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate x 
Start screen, Semantic Zoom, Live Tilesxxx
Windows Storexxx
Apps (Mail, Calendar, People, Messaging, Photos, SkyDrive, Reader, Music, Video)xxx
Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote)  x
Internet Explorer 10xxx
Device encryption  x
Connected standbyxxx
Microsoft accountxxx
Desktopxxx
Installation of x86/64 and desktop softwarexx 
Updated Windows Explorerxxx
Windows Defenderxxx
SmartScreenxxx
Windows Updatexxx
Enhanced Task Managerxxx
Switch languages on the fly (Language Packs)xxx
Better multiple monitor supportxxx
Storage Spacesxx 
Windows Media Playerxx 
Exchange ActiveSyncxxx
File historyxxx
ISO / VHD mountxxx
Mobile broadband featuresxxx
Picture passwordxxx
Play Toxxx
Remote Desktop (client)xxx
Reset and refresh your PCxxx
Snapxxx
Touch and Thumb keyboardxxx
Trusted bootxxx
VPN clientxxx
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 

48 Comments

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Guinevere 17th April 2012, 11:47 Quote
So Windows RT won't have an encrypted filesystem / BitLocker? And they want Windows 8 ARM tablets to convince the pros they don't want iPads?

Professionals are already adopting iPads, from airlines to doctors. You think a corporate IT department is going to allow tablets that can't be encrypted? Okay maybe when x86 tablets come out with good batter life etc it'll all be okay with Windows 8 Pro installed on them. But why cripple RT?

Am I missing something?
NGRhodes 17th April 2012, 11:51 Quote
I read Media Center will be paid-for add-on to Win 8 Pro. I don't understand why it has to depend on the Pro version - this will see a lot of existing MC users looking at the numerous (cost-free) alternatives.
Gareth Halfacree 17th April 2012, 11:57 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guinevere
So Windows RT won't have an encrypted filesystem / BitLocker? And they want Windows 8 ARM tablets to convince the pros they don't want iPads?
Windows RT doesn't have a tick in the encrypted filesystem box because it's the only Windows 8 release to feature whole-device encryption instead - which is a separate box.
deathtaker27 17th April 2012, 12:23 Quote
Glad to see the ammount of different versions cut down, one business and one home at the most basic level :)
Noob? 17th April 2012, 12:34 Quote
I can't believe there will be only a few editions. Good choice IMO.

Bit-Tech, you don't have info on pricing do you?
popcornuk1983 17th April 2012, 12:35 Quote
Question.

Is there any reason to upgrade to win 8 from win7 x64?

The only massive change seems to be the metro UI which is designed for touchscreen devices, not a keyboard/mouse. I've tried it myself and don't like it at all.

Is that the only major change for the general gamer/tech enthusiast? Or am I missing something big?
arcticstoat 17th April 2012, 12:37 Quote
Hmm, no mention of Windows Media Center - wonder if that's getting dropped now.
azrael- 17th April 2012, 12:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by arcticstoat
Hmm, no mention of Windows Media Center - wonder if that's getting dropped now.

From the Windows 8 blog:
Quote:
Windows Media Center will be available as an economical “media pack” add-on to Windows 8 Pro.

But for me it's all a moot point as long as Metro isn't made optional on the desktop.
Waynio 17th April 2012, 12:53 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by popcornuk1983
Question.

Is there any reason to upgrade to win 8 from win7 x64?

The only massive change seems to be the metro UI which is designed for touchscreen devices, not a keyboard/mouse. I've tried it myself and don't like it at all.

Is that the only major change for the general gamer/tech enthusiast? Or am I missing something big?

You answered something I was unsure about, someone who doesn't like metro with it being primarily for touch screens & tried it & still doesn't like it, cheers popcornuk1983, saved me the bother of trying it. :D

Long live keyboards & mice.

Good question you put up though & I'd also like to know the answer to that.

Personally I really think it's a bad decision to try force touch screen stye on desktop PC's & they should do 2 versions, desktop or metro.
[PUNK] crompers 17th April 2012, 13:10 Quote
It'll have a desktop "app" but since that will basically be W7 i see no reason to upgrade
Bauul 17th April 2012, 13:13 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by popcornuk1983
Question.

Is there any reason to upgrade to win 8 from win7 x64?

The only massive change seems to be the metro UI which is designed for touchscreen devices, not a keyboard/mouse. I've tried it myself and don't like it at all.

Is that the only major change for the general gamer/tech enthusiast? Or am I missing something big?

There's the funky auto-RAID feature called Storage Spaces that I'm quite keen on. Currently all my files/programs are scattered across three harddrives. I rather like the idea of automatically merging them all into a big group. Extra speed, extra reliability, and less clutter for me. Win win!

That said, it's not a day-one purchase feature, and there is a lot else that's wrong with Win8 that counteracts the good bits.
3lusive 17th April 2012, 13:16 Quote
I'm glad they've reduced the number of consumer editions, but I still can't see myself upgrading any time soon to an OS which is by design unsuitable and impractical for a desktop environment. Aero and metro on one OS? No thanks.

Come back when you've given us proper multi-monitor support, not this gimmicky metro crap that you're only doing to try to compete with Apple.

I'm predicting a fail for Win8 on desktops, and Win9 will be the proper successor to Win7, with the removal of the metro UI for desktop versions.
Chicken76 17th April 2012, 13:23 Quote
Is there any info whether the x86 editions will be in both 32 and 64 bit variants, or has 32 bit been dropped?
Brooxy 17th April 2012, 14:30 Quote
Is Metro really as bad as the general consensus make it out to be? (I'm unable to test it due to the lack of a spare machine at home)

On topic, it's good to see that MS have gone back to a simpler set of editions - should make it a bit more consumer friendly for the average joe that doesn't know a lot about computers.

@Chicken76 - According to the link below, it will be availble for 32bit systems - odd though, I thought MS were going to drop support for it.

http://www.techradar.com/news/computing/windows-8-versions-revealed-streamlined-choice-offered-1076296
Phalanx 17th April 2012, 14:36 Quote
I'll wait for Windows 9 I think.
Coltch 17th April 2012, 14:43 Quote
Metro is awful on the desktop, it's designed for touch enabled devices - end of!

Not too pleased about WMC being a paid for add-on, looks like Win7 or XBMC for the new HTPC
Tangster 17th April 2012, 14:44 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phalanx
I'll wait for Windows 9 I think.
Agree wholeheartedly. Not enough reasons to upgrade and I'm personally hoping the metro interface will crash and burn.
misterd77 17th April 2012, 14:54 Quote
here was me thinking windows 8 was about cross platform unity, ms sucks baws, bigtime, I guess I will be sticking with win 7 ultimate x64, and buying an ipad......
Zombie 17th April 2012, 15:24 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coltch
Metro is awful on the desktop, it's designed for touch enabled devices - end of!

Nonsense, it works happily with mouse / keyboard. I've had a VM running since the dev preview, even developed a couple of internal applications.

Most of the complaints are due to the 'newness' of the interface - people just don't like change. I'm old enough to remember the Win 3.11 -> 95 kerfuffle, the hatred at the time of the start menu! Then came the idea of 'desktop' rather than going to your c: for everything. Every change is met with resistance, and for a company like MS they really suffer - they're either 'not innovative' or alienate some long term users.

Once you get your head round it you'll end up liking it, then you'll be just in time to complain about how much windows 9 sucks because it's different!
Gareth Halfacree 17th April 2012, 15:27 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zombie
Once you get your head round it you'll end up liking it[...]
That's what Mark Shuttleworth said about Unity, and yet here I am hating it just as much as ever...
RedFlames 17th April 2012, 15:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zombie
Once you get your head round it you'll end up liking it[...]
That's what Mark Shuttleworth said about Unity, and yet here I am hating it just as much as ever...

you'd get used to having your arm cut off, but that doesn't mean you'd like having it cut off or go out of your way to have it cut off...

and unity isn't that bad... i still bin it in favour of gnome but it is getting better [or at least not as bad as when it first showed up...]
stoff3r 17th April 2012, 16:08 Quote
Still no remote desctop for me then. Unless I turn into a pirate. It was all easier when everyone had pirated windows xp pro.
Nanu 17th April 2012, 16:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zombie
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coltch
Metro is awful on the desktop, it's designed for touch enabled devices - end of!


Most of the complaints are due to the 'newness' of the interface - people just don't like change...

Once you get your head round it you'll end up liking it, then you'll be just in time to complain about how much windows 9 sucks because it's different!

Agreed, I thought Metro was the stupidest idea ever at first, then I realised it allows me to access everything I need much faster, much more easily.

Gaming, content production, CAD work, rendering, animating, editing, office, internet, etc. Windows is taking huge leaps forwards.

Windows 7 ultimate has allowed me to do things with ease that have been a pain in the arse for decades.
digitaldunc 17th April 2012, 16:37 Quote
Double post voodoo, ignore.
digitaldunc 17th April 2012, 16:38 Quote
So far, so meh. I'd like to be pleasantly surprised, but I doubt it.

How about Windows: Expert edition? It'd be Windows minus bloat semi-akin to minimal nlite installs -- built for speed. That's where *nix does things properly -- even X windows is optional if you don't want it.

Personally (and this goes for hardware manufacturers, too) I want quality, streamlined software/hardware that does the job and does it well (Think VLC rather than WMP) rather than feature bloat.
digitaldunc 17th April 2012, 16:39 Quote
Double post voodoo, ignore.
PCBuilderSven 17th April 2012, 17:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by RedFlames
unity isn't that bad... i still bin it in favour of gnome but it is getting better [or at least not as bad as when it first showed up...]

Gnome seems to have lost it and unity is terrible, KDE for the win
azrael- 17th April 2012, 18:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brooxy
Is Metro really as bad as the general consensus make it out to be? (I'm unable to test it due to the lack of a spare machine at home)
<SNIP>
Yes, it actually is that bad ...for the desktop. Metro is excellent for touch interfaces, but it's an abomination for keyboard/mouse use. It's also completely unintuitively implemented for keyboard/mouse use. One would think they'd emulate something like click'n'drag to move around the Start screen, much like you touch and drag on a touch screen, but of course that'd be too simple... :(
SuicideNeil 17th April 2012, 19:15 Quote
I'll wait until windows 8 Pro pikey edition is released....
stoff3r 17th April 2012, 20:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitaldunc
So far, so meh. I'd like to be pleasantly surprised, but I doubt it.

How about Windows: Expert edition? It'd be Windows minus bloat semi-akin to minimal nlite installs -- built for speed. That's where *nix does things properly -- even X windows is optional if you don't want it.

Personally (and this goes for hardware manufacturers, too) I want quality, streamlined software/hardware that does the job and does it well (Think VLC rather than WMP) rather than feature bloat.

Who installs linux for performance? That'll be performance in an extremely narrow field like folding @ home or something ? In general drivers appear to be outdated or not made for linux? That is my impression, not that I ever tried it.
Snips 17th April 2012, 20:50 Quote
I don't see any negatives here at all. Unfortunately, Microsoft has it's haters and they've all turned up here today.

Can't wait for Windows RT Tablets so I can get rid of this stupid iPad.
Guinevere 17th April 2012, 21:25 Quote
Quote:
Windows Media Center will be available as an economical “media pack” add-on to Windows 8 Pro.

Laughable that it's a paid for upgrade. Beyond a joke that you need the pro version first!

Why not just release it in the app store and be done with it?

Oh I know why, because the pro version includes all the virtualisation hacks they probably need to get the code working!
yougotkicked 17th April 2012, 22:36 Quote
the only thing I see in windows 8 that make me want to upgrade are the native virtualization and ISO mounting features; something windows 7 can get with free 3rd party software. booting from a VHD seems to be the only significant advantage to the native support, but even that is possible under 7 (and earlier) it's just poorly supported.
AmEv 18th April 2012, 00:31 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by NGRhodes
I read Media Center will be paid-for add-on to Win 8 Pro. I don't understand why it has to depend on the Pro version - this will see a lot of existing MC users looking at the numerous (cost-free) alternatives.

VLC :P
Waynio 18th April 2012, 00:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by AmEv
VLC :P

Not tried that one yet, I like XBMC a lot. :D
dark_avenger 18th April 2012, 02:01 Quote
Two versions seem like the way to go. Keep it nice and simple. Am looking forward to playing with an RC version as as with Windows 7 I think they will be paying attention to the tech community/beta testers and I'd expect metro to mature quite before the final release.

As for Media Center does anybody still really use that? Every computer I've used it on it's been flaky as hell.
XBMC ftw
AmEv 18th April 2012, 03:08 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Waynio
Not tried that one yet, I like XBMC a lot. :D

Just grab the source, compile for WinARM, volia.

Plugins, however..
leexgx 18th April 2012, 05:25 Quote
i have tried metro, you throw an normal user in front of Windows 8 and they go ?????

using windows 95 to xp was easy change for your normal users

vista was like wtf where's the start button, where's the shutdown button, a lot of users if computers do not think (as to why they have put the words "shutdown" in Windows 7 as they hid it in vista as they thought users would want to use the sleep function, but that failed as they needed to tell motherboard makers to not make the power light flash or light up as most users want there pc off)

metro unless they change it to be simple to use, it will be an fail unless you got an tablet pc with an touch screen on x86 or x64 (but if MS get there own way it may be ultimately useless as it be running the ARM win8 version where most/all software does not work on it so you end up getting an iPad or good android tablet)

Windows 7 way better then XP was as Windows 2000 was (and 98 I guess) ME and Vista was more like public tests sold to retail that should of never got there, vista would of been better if they had done what had been done in vista 1.1v (win7, "system restore/trustedinstaller/windows update" and superfetch hogging disk time) as that's for the most part (fixes that could of been fixed in an service pack for it )
impar 18th April 2012, 11:36 Quote
Greetings!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bauul
There's the funky auto-RAID feature called Storage Spaces that I'm quite keen on. Currently all my files/programs are scattered across three harddrives. I rather like the idea of automatically merging them all into a big group. Extra speed, extra reliability, and less clutter for me. Win win!
Not really sure on how robust that solution is. Or how easy it will be to migrate data to another OS installation. Have you tried?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brooxy
Is Metro really as bad as the general consensus make it out to be?
If you use KB+M, yep, its bad.
You can kind of get used to it, but it really is an adapted touch UI. You dont gain anything by using it.
The same for the Start Screen.
It does work for touch gadgets, though.
Coltch 18th April 2012, 14:33 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zombie
Nonsense, it works happily with mouse / keyboard. I've had a VM running since the dev preview, even developed a couple of internal applications.

Once you get your head round it you'll end up liking it, then you'll be just in time to complain about how much windows 9 sucks because it's different!

I'm running the Windows 8 CP on my netbook and Metro is just a complete abomination (I am used to it and it is still completely crap with anything other than a touchscreen).

I hope Microsoft give the option to either remove or turn Metro off for the desktop in Windows 8, but that probably wont happen.

Windows Media Centre being a paid for add-on is probably a sign of useless Metro apps taking it's place.
BLC 19th April 2012, 15:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bauul
There's the funky auto-RAID feature called Storage Spaces that I'm quite keen on. Currently all my files/programs are scattered across three harddrives. I rather like the idea of automatically merging them all into a big group. Extra speed, extra reliability, and less clutter for me. Win win!

Sounds like a useful idea - remains to be seen how useful it is in practice though... That's one thing that *nix certainly got right: treating every storage device as one big file tree.
Quote:
Originally Posted by stoff3r
Who installs linux for performance?


Me. Lubuntu flies on my laptop, but Win7 still chugs a bit now and then.
Quote:
Originally Posted by stoff3r
That'll be performance in an extremely narrow field like folding @ home or something ? In general drivers appear to be outdated or not made for linux? That is my impression, not that I ever tried it.

Linux drivers are much better than they used to be. There are still some issues with WiFi cards, though they are getting better, and really random pieces of hardware. Of course it's not going to be as diverse as drivers available for Windows, but it's a hundred times better than it was.
Panos 19th April 2012, 18:50 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Waynio
Quote:
Originally Posted by popcornuk1983
Question.

Is there any reason to upgrade to win 8 from win7 x64?

The only massive change seems to be the metro UI which is designed for touchscreen devices, not a keyboard/mouse. I've tried it myself and don't like it at all.

Is that the only major change for the general gamer/tech enthusiast? Or am I missing something big?

You answered something I was unsure about, someone who doesn't like metro with it being primarily for touch screens & tried it & still doesn't like it, cheers popcornuk1983, saved me the bother of trying it. :D

Long live keyboards & mice.

Good question you put up though & I'd also like to know the answer to that.

Personally I really think it's a bad decision to try force touch screen stye on desktop PC's & they should do 2 versions, desktop or metro.

I was also wondering the same thing. I do not see the point to upgrade.

And the only reason for someone to upgrade from Vista SP2 (stand alone installation not upgraded vanilla or SP1, that matters) to W7 was the stigma of the 'Vista'. As releases their only difference was one came with DX11 installed. Other than that. Exactly the same. (Vista vanilla & SP1 are different animals....)
NethLyn 19th April 2012, 21:13 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chicken76
Is there any info whether the x86 editions will be in both 32 and 64 bit variants, or has 32 bit been dropped?

I would've been against dropping 32-bit but the extension of support for the two versions before covers that, so they could drop it for 8.

Not sure how similar the Xbox Live interface will be to the final Windows 8, if it's like that then only a repeat of the £40 offer would get me to buy the new Windows and I suspect sales matter more to MS than being a heavy hardcore user of the OS, if they're bundling Office into the "Ultimate" version and trying to imply that there will be a saving on Office 2013 and Win 8 separately.
ssj12 20th April 2012, 06:44 Quote
I really wish Valve would release Steam for Linux then I wouldnt care about Windows at all.

No plans of upgrading to Win8. Maybe not even Win9 if the push more into this tablet functionality bs. Mouse and keyboard FTW.
dyzophoria 20th April 2012, 08:49 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zombie
Nonsense, it works happily with mouse / keyboard. I've had a VM running since the dev preview, even developed a couple of internal applications.

Most of the complaints are due to the 'newness' of the interface - people just don't like change. I'm old enough to remember the Win 3.11 -> 95 kerfuffle, the hatred at the time of the start menu! Then came the idea of 'desktop' rather than going to your c: for everything. Every change is met with resistance, and for a company like MS they really suffer - they're either 'not innovative' or alienate some long term users.

Once you get your head round it you'll end up liking it, then you'll be just in time to complain about how much windows 9 sucks because it's different!

this, like it or not, i believe Metro is staying since the only reason people don't like it is because of how it looks (well.. it is the UI) compared to Vista's awful slowness. Metro the only difference in 8?, hmm, for me 8 is way way faster, the reason that even though Metro isnt a big thing with me, I might still considering upgrading to it, aside from storage spaces, that nifty boot from USB, faster network speeds, and other new features "aside" from Metro IMO.
azrael- 20th April 2012, 10:49 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by dyzophoria
this, like it or not, i believe Metro is staying since the only reason people don't like it is because of how it looks (well.. it is the UI) compared to Vista's awful slowness. Metro the only difference in 8?, hmm, for me 8 is way way faster, the reason that even though Metro isnt a big thing with me, I might still considering upgrading to it, aside from storage spaces, that nifty boot from USB, faster network speeds, and other new features "aside" from Metro IMO.
I'd turn this argument on its head and say the reason _NOT_ to upgrade to Windows 8 (on the desktop) is the Metro UX. And I'd also claim this to be a pretty strong argument.
impar 20th April 2012, 11:06 Quote
Greetings!
Quote:
Originally Posted by azrael-
I'd turn this argument on its head and say the reason _NOT_ to upgrade to Windows 8 (on the desktop) is the Metro UX. And I'd also claim this to be a pretty strong argument.
Yep.
The improvements and additions made to Windows 8 are nice but they are not enough to balance the half-baked Desktop-Metro transitions and the annoying fullscreen SS.
It is a bit sad, for PCs, Windows 8 with a choosable UI (Aero or Metro) would be a nice upgrade over Windows 7, the forced Metro UI kills it.
3lusive 20th April 2012, 11:24 Quote
^Agreed. Makes no sense to upgrade to something which on a desktop platform is LESS functional than the previous version. New Windows are supposed to show progress, not set us back a few years.
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