Monday, April 16, 2012

Microsoft unveils Windows 8 editions: two for x86/x64, one for ARM

Microsoft has announced the "versions" for Windows 8. As always, the Redmond, Wash.-based company will launch its newest version of its desktop operating system in several different "tiers."

Those hoping for fewer, and thus hopefully less confusing, Window editions than in previous versions, have seen their hopes answered. For desktops, Microsoft will release only three different editions of Windows 8, plain old Windows 8 (minus the "plain old" part) and Windows 8 Pro.

Microsoft said that Windows 8 will be the way to go for most consumers. It will include the updated Windows Explorer, Task Manager, better multi-monitor support, and the ability to "switch languages on the fly," previously only available in the Enterprise and Ultimate Editions of Windows.

Business and tech enthusiasts / professionals will want Windows 8 Pro. That version will add features including encryption, virtualization, PC management, and domain connectivity. If you're wondering what happened to Windows Media Center, that functionality will be available as an add-on to Windows 8 Pro, and will be dubbed the "Media Pack."
What about the Windows on ARM (WOA) version for ARM-based tablets (such as those that currently sport Android) and ARM-based desktops? Microsoft is naming the Windows on ARM (WOA) version Windows RT. Windows RT will ship with touch-optimized desktop versions of the new Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.

To be clear, any x86-based tablets can, of course, run Windows 8.

For those interested in using Remote Desktop on Windows, that's always been a key for us: Windows 7 Home Premium didn't support being a host, and that's the same situation with plain jane Windows 8. If you want to be a RDC host, you have to get Windows 8 Pro.

It's nice to see the number of Windows editions cut down. Consumers interested in Windows 7 have to choose between Home Premium, Professional and Ultimate, but there is also an Enterprise version, and a Basic one for low-end computers, bringing the total to five.

A full breakdown of the differences between the editions can be seen in this Microsoft blog post.

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