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

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  • damianrobertjones - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - link


    While on the main Metro screen simply type Contro.... and the search will bring it forward for you to click.


    Set your power button to shutdown the machine.

    You're using a CONSUMER PREVIEW... a PREVIEW! The clue is in the word, 'Preview'.
  • James5mith - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    What possible reason could they have to offer 32-bit only versions of Windows 8? There are no systems that a sane IT person, or even end-consumer would consider upgrading to Windows8 that have 32-bit only CPU's. 32-bit CPU's went the way of the dodo at the same time as systems that were limited to 1-2GB of RAM, max.

    Seriously, what is microsoft thinking? I ask because I cannot see a logical reason to keep 32-bit only OS branches alive.
  • haukionkannel - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    Newer heard Intel Atom prosessors? They are still 32bit and are still manufactured...
  • damianrobertjones - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - link


    That is all.
  • fishbits - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    Did I miss their saying the max RAM supported on the RT version? Was 16 GB on Home for Win7, hoping for 64 (or at least 32) this time out. Will help me decide what Win7 licenses to snatch up before 8 comes out.
  • fishbits - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    Ugh, not RT (that name!) Plain Win 8, the Win 7 Home equivalent. Whoops!
  • B3an - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - link

    The Consumer Preview recognises all of my 32GB, and the CP is basically the Pro version.

    And i've seen Win 8 running on a system with 1TB or RAM, yeah 1TB! Which i assume is also the Pro version. No idea about the limits of the non-pro version of 8, dont think it's been announced yet.
  • cyabud - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    I was caught out when I pre-ordered Win7 Home Premium from Amazon. It only recognises 16GB of my 24GB of RAM and upgrading my license costs more than my discounted pre-order copy did in the first place. Luckily most of my memory intensive activities take place in OS X but nonetheless disappointed with myself for not having done my homework before purchasing, and with MS for imposing artificial limitations.
  • cyabud - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    sorry should have replied to previous comment..
  • Conficio - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    In the days of the Windows App store, there is no reason to have more than one edition.

    Simply package the additional features into a product and sell those separately. Ideally have some features like bit locker, etc. available for small money ($5) purchase separately.

    That would also put away with the odd distinction of PCs/laptops being marketed for business or home use. And it allows a simple upgrade by feature needed.

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