Microsoft Communications Manager Brandon LeBlanc has finally given us our first official information about product editions for Windows 8, which is now confirmed to be the product's actual shipping name. For 32-bit and 64-bit PCs, there will be two editions of the operating system that most people will see: Windows 8, which is roughly equivalent to Windows 7 Home Premium, and Windows 8 Pro, which is analogous to Windows 7 Ultimate. Windows on ARM, now called Windows RT, is a standalone product with roughly the same feature set as the standard Windows 8 product.

Windows 8 Pro is largely a superset of Windows 8, including all of its features plus business and power user-oriented features like Bitlocker, EFS, the ability to boot from VHDs and host Remote Desktop sessions, the ability to join Active Directory domains. Some of these features had previously been restricted to the Ultimate/Enterprise product tier in Windows 7, and it's nice to see everything trickling down to what should hopefully be a cheaper product (though Microsoft has not yet released details about Windows 8 pricing). Windows 8 Pro will, however, be missing Windows Media Center. The software can be purchased separately, but Windows Media Center is essentially abandonware in Windows 8 - as of the Consumer Preview, there have been no major additions to the software since Windows 7.

As for other editions, Windows 8 Enterprise will still exist as a separate product available to customers with Software Assurance volume licensing agreements with Microsoft. LeBlanc noted that Windows 8 Enterprise would include features that "enable PC management and deployment, advanced security, virtualization, new mobility scenarios, and much more," but it's not certain whether these will manifest themselves as new features within Windows 8 or as additional add-ons and programs available to enterprise customers separately. Windows 7 Enterprise was functionally identical to Windows 7 Ultimate except for its support of volume license keys.

There will also be an edition offered in China and other "emerging markets" - Microsoft hasn't said much about what is missing from this edition other than support for multiple languages, but this could end up being a more stripped-down version of Windows to replace Windows 7 Starter. In any event, most people reading this are unlikely to find this OS in the wild.

This is as simple as the WIndows product stack has been since Windows XP was introduced in Home and Pro editions in 2001, replacing Windows Me and Windows 2000 and bringing both the home and professional Windows products onto the same Windows NT codebase. Windows Vista split the lineup into four different commercially available editions - Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, and Ultimate - whose feature sets were often confusing and poorly defined. It's nice to see some semblance of simplicity restored six years later.

For a full list of features included in each edition, the original blog post is linked below.

Source:Windows Team Blog

Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • damianrobertjones - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - link

    Really? Clueless? Drive extender simply didn't work and ended up with corrupted data for a select few.

    P.s. Running WHS 2011 myself and am glad that DE's gone.
  • Taft12 - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - link

    WHS is a poorly selling product anyway, I wouldn't be surprised if WHS 2011 is the last version they'll release.
  • andrebrait - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    I never liked the MS MediaCenter...

    I think XBMC if far better than WMC...
  • dagamer34 - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    The ONLY reason to use Windows Media Center is as a CableCard DVR. Everything else has pretty much been put into the Metro environment in Windows 8. And the real problem is that CableCards are such a US-centric solution that it never made sense for Microsoft to invest significant energy into it anyway, when IPTV is a far more global solution in the long term for the rest of the world. All you need is a working internet connection and perhaps a login from your provider. No truck rolls, no need to deal with crappy boxes, no rental fees, period.
  • jabber - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    I must admit I've never used Media Centre on any of my PCs or laptops. My Xbox does the job from my NAS box and as others have said there are just simpler better options out there. At least MS realises this.

    I've only seen one of my buddies use it and he is a MVP!

    The world has moved on.
  • damianrobertjones - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - link

    Really? You're never going to buy another MS product again? So would that mean you'll be moving to Apple?

    Cost of Windows 8 pro vs a new laptop?

  • Golgatha - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - link

    WMC is now an XBox 360. Outside of the general geek population, hardly anyone attaches a full fledged PC to their TV. A lot of people can share their folders through WMP and pull it up on their XBox 360 though.
  • Matt08642 - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    You seriously need Windows 8 PRO to join a domain?

    Are you kidding me?
  • TheMouse - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    Did you think they would change that for Windows 8? It's been like that since XP.
  • jrocks84 - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    You need Windows 7 Professional to join a domain currently.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now