Windows 8 Editions Explained

Posted by Mayank on October 25, 2012 in Windows

The highly anticipated Windows 8 has been released amidst much fanfare. Microsoft is reportedly spending between $1.5 and $1.8 billion on marketing of Windows 8.  This is around triple the amount that Microsoft spent on the Windows 7 launch two years ago. After all, Windows 8 is a product, which is going to shape the future of Microsoft, a company trying very hard to gets it’s mojo back.

Windows 8 has been highly appreciated and has received positive reviews. It is touted to be the OS of the future. There are several different versions of Windows 8 available and it is not difficult to get confused about the one which best suits you. Today, we’ll attempt and explain all the different Windows 8 versions available.

Microsoft has simplified the Windows 8 editions. Consider that Windows 7 alone had six different editions: Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, Ultimate and Enterprise. Windows 8 has just three different editions available: Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro and Windows 8 RT. Only two versions of Windows 8 to be available to consumers, plus one for ARM devices (pre-installed only), what you get ought to be straightforward.

PCs and Tablets powered by x86 processors (both 32-bit and 64-bit platforms) will have Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro. Windows on ARM platform or WOA will be officially called Windows RT.

Windows 8 Editions Explained

Windows 8 

Windows 8 (yes, just Windows 8) is the consumer version or standard edition of Windows 8 OS. Windows 8 includes all the major features revealed in the Windows 8 preview. Features like the new Metro UI (user interface), updated Windows Explorer, Task Manager, better multi-monitor support and the ability to switch languages on the fly. Windows 7 users running Starter, Home Basic and Home Premium editions can upgrade to this edition.

Windows 8 excludes a lot of the business-type features like drive encryption, group policy and virtualization. However, you will still have access to the Windows Store, Live Tiles, Remote Desktop Client, VPN Client and other features.

One of the big names missing from Windows 8 is the Microsoft Media Center. So, if you’re a big fan of the Media Center, you ought to go for Windows 8 Pro.

Windows 8 Pro

Windows 8 Pro edition is for business or technical professionals and PC enthusiasts. It is similar to what was Windows 7 Ultimate.

Windows 8 Pro includes everything found in Windows 8 (for consumer) and has additional features like BitLocker encryption, PC virtualization, group policy, domain connectivity, remote desktop, PC management etc. Windows 8 Pro is geared towards corporate environments, but is a good bet for those looking to do a bit more than usual stuff. Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate users will only be able to upgrade to this version.

Windows 8 RT 

Windows 8 RT (Windows Runtime or WinRT) is the newest addition to the list of Windows editions. It is specifically designed for ARM-based devices like tablets, ARM-powered PCs and any other devices that support the ARM* architecture and are designed to run Windows 8 RT.

ARM is a processor architecture used in devices like mobile phones, tablets and some computers. WOA refers to Windows on ARM or Windows 8 RT which runs on ARM-based devices.

The operating system will be pre-loaded much like a tablet running Android or iOS ships with the operating system preinstalled and configured. It also means that you will probably not be able to load RT onto any tablet or device.

Windows 8 RT offers device-level encryption and the touch-based Office suite as part of the operating system, so you won’t have to go buy a copy of Office or worry about data exposure.

Windows RT won’t be able to run x86/64 and desktop applications. You are limited to offerings from the Windows Store and any other applications you can side-load.

How to Upgrade to a Windows 8 Edition

Windows 8 can be installed as an upgrade from Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic and Home Premium. Users wanting to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro will need to have Windows 7 Professional or Windows 7 Ultimate.

So if you are running Windows Vista or XP, chances are you probably need a new PC already otherwise you will end up having to buy the full version of Windows 8. Amazon is offering a $30 Amazon.com promotional credit toward the purchase of items shipped and sold by Amazon.com.

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