All The Windows 8 Editions Explained

We still don't have an official release date, but Microsoft has outlined its version plans for Windows 8. The good news? Unlike some earlier confusing Windows releases, there are only going to be three main versions. Here's what you need to know.

The three versions at release will be:

  • Windows 8 is the standard edition. It includes all the major features that have been revealed in the Windows 8 preview, such as the new Metro interface and related upgrades to core apps such as Explorer and IE. You can upgrade to this from Starter, Home Basic and Home Premium editions of Windows 7.
  • Windows 8 Pro adds business features: more specifically, BitLocker and BitLocker To Go; Boot from VHD; Client Hyper-V; Domain Join; Encrypting File System; Group Policy; and Remote Desktop (host). If you currently run Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate, this will be the only version you can upgrade to. (Note that some of these features are included in the Consumer Preview version.)
  • Windows 8 RT is the version which runs on ARM processors, and will only be available pre-installed on existing devices. This is the release that will run on tablets and ultra-small devices, which will only run Metro apps rather than older software (which means among other things it won't include Windows Media Player, instead using newer ARM-specific playback apps). It will include Office as a built-in feature.

If you want to run Windows Media Center, that will be a separate add-on to the Windows 8 Pro release. (Compared to the US, Windows Media Center has never gained much traction in Australia, so I don't think that will disappoint too many people.)

We still don't have pricing details for either new installs or upgrades, though it seems safe to assume that there won't be upgrade prices for the RT version. The features list also suggests that there won't be an upgrade path for pre-Windows 7 versions; users on Vista or XP will need to buy a full release. The general assumption is that Windows 8 will be released before the end of the year.

While those three versions are the main ones at launch, there will be a few other tweaks. Customers with enterprise licenses will be able to access an Enterprise version based on the Pro release, but with additional features for deployment and security.

It remains remotely possible that Microsoft might develop a cut-back release for netbooks, the smallest of which can't run Metro apps. While the standard Windows 8 will support multiple languages, a Chinese-language-only version of Windows 8 is being developed, which we're guessing will be aimed at cheaper machines. So there's a small window of opportunity (ahem) there. But it seems unlikely we'll see too many other tweaks, and the lack of more versions overall is definitely welcome.

Announcing the Windows 8 editions [Windows Team Blog]


Comments

    Are you joking, the Media Centre "Add On" for the Pro-version (which i would have to pay even more for) is enough to stop me buying this. Even Vista had MC as a standard feature in its Home Edition. There is no real reason to upgrade from 7 it seems other than forced compatibility issues eventually...

      Win8 probably has all the MC features covered via Metro apps, so I don't see a problem, really. TBH, I don't even know what Media Centre is. Its been pre-installed on a couple of machines I've bought but I've never fired it up. How does it differ from WMP?

        Sorry, my previous reply sounded snarky...I should be a little more helpful than that. You were asking how it differs from WMP? It, like WMP plays video files...but it can also play over the air digital television (just like your tv). So, you can do things such as watch live tv, record live tv, play music etc. Basically, it's like tivo but for your pc.

          Plus it's a nice way to stream content to an Xbox360 =)

      Not to mention that MC in Win 8 CP is identical to 7MC.

        You say, "I don’t even know what Media Centre is"...yet you preface that with "Win8 probably has all the MC features covered via Metro apps, so I don’t see a problem..."....I'm confused.

          I've replied to the wrong post...sorry.

      Give it a week and there will be an XBMC release for this anyway.

      XBMC is far superior to Windows Media Centre anyway.

    Lets hope they disable metro and not enforce metro apps in the pro version. Can you imagine how hard it would be to work if windows keeps pulling you out to fullscreen apps.

    I'll be one of the 'few' missing Windows Media Centre out of the box - I use it every day on my Media PC, and have done so for years. I was (and still am) looking forward to a metro version of WMC, however I've got a slight feeling that won't be along for a little while yet, if ever (but we can trust the WMC community to create themes to get the desired effect, i'm sure!).

    I will prob get a Windows 8 touchscreen laptop/tablet device, but I won't be upgrading any of my existing PC's from Win 7. WMC is one of the hidden gems of Windows, I use it on every PC in the house, as well as using 2 XBox 360's as extenders, for streaming live tv and recording tv shows.

    I have to ask too: are you joking? My HTPC runs Windows Media Center. I don't think Microsoft are prepared to put much effort to keep WMC alive. It sucks. Windows 7 Media Center was great! I was really looking forward to future enhancements through Windows 8. Time to switch to XMBC I guess.

    By the way, Lifehacker Australia, Why are you not in Google+??

    windows media centre would be a dealer breaker for me - dont think i would pay to upgrade

    The METRO interface is a deal breaker for me. I've been playing with the customer preview. It's good. Stable. Really fast. But the METRO interface seems to be tacked on, on top of the usual desktop. It feels like the add-on UI's you could get for old Windows Mobile phones, circa 2006. You can't do everything in Metro, you have to get out and use the normal Windows interface for some things - which makes it useless.

      +1 Dazz. Metro is a poxy feature slapped into Win 8 in an attempt to jump on the 'apps' and 'social media' band wagon. It's totally out of place with respect to the rest of the operating system.

      We already know that Windows only has good releases every few versions, i.e. XP and 7, so it's not a surprise that Win 8 is not looking good.

    I want to know who the hell uses WMC when XBMC is free/100 times better? :P

      What Chris said.

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