Microsoft has announced its flagship Windows 8 operating system will launch with three editions; Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro and Windows RT.
This is in contrast to the last few Windows releases, which offered six seperate editions for different user categories.
Tablets, desktops and laptops using Intel/AMD x86 processors will be available under the Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro brands. Windows RT will come pre-installed on ARM-powered devices.
"We have worked to make it easier for customers to know what edition will work best for them when they purchase a new Windows 8 PC or upgrade their existing PC," Brandon LeBlanc explained on the Windows Blog.
As its name implies, Windows 8 is the standard edition of Microsoft's new OS and is aimed at the majority of consumers. Like all Windows 8 editions, it provides access to Windows Store and allows the user to switch between a touch screen (if you have a compatible device) and keyboard/mouse. It also includes an updated Windows Explorer, Task Manager, better multi-monitor support and the ability to switch languages on the fly (a feature that was previously only available in enterprise/ultimate editions of Windows).
Windows 8 Pro
Windows 8 Pro is geared towards "tech enthusiasts and business/technical professionals". It comes with additional features including encryption, virtualisation, domain connectivity and PC management tools.
Confusingly also known as 'Windows on ARM' (or 'WOA'), Windows RT will only be available pre-installed on PCs and tablets powered by ARM processors. The RT edition has been optimised to work with compact form factors with an emphasis on battery life.
"Windows RT will include touch-optimised desktop versions of the new Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote," adds LeBlanc . "For new apps, the focus for Windows RT is development on the new Windows runtime, or WinRT, which forms the foundation of a new generation of cloud-enabled, touch-enabled, web-connected apps of all kinds."
Pricing for each edition is yet to be announced.
A more in-depth analysis of the differences between each Windows 8 edition can be seen below:
Upgrades from Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium
Upgrades from Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate
Start screen, Semantic Zoom, Live Tiles
Apps (Mail, Calendar, People, Messaging, Photos, SkyDrive, Reader, Music, Video)
Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote)
Internet Explorer 10
Installation of x86/64 and desktop software
Updated Windows Explorer
Enhanced Task Manager
Switch languages on the fly (Language Packs)
Better multiple monitor support
Windows Media Player
ISO / VHD mount
Mobile broadband features
Remote Desktop (client)
Reset and refresh your PC
Touch and Thumb keyboard
BitLocker and BitLocker To Go
Boot from VHD
Encrypting File System
Remote Desktop (host)
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Issue: 345 | December 2015