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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  • AnotherGuy - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    Why wouldnt you... ? Reply
  • tipoo - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    ...Which is the exact same as its been for over a decade. Why would we expect that to be different? I do wish they rolled Pro and standard into one though. Reply
  • euler007 - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    XP Pro, Vista Business or above, Win 7 pro or above. Always been like that.

    Guess you don't administer a domain.
    Reply
  • B3an - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    I like how MS are keeping things simple with Win 8. Just 2 editions for home users, and now many MS services and features are being integrated - its about time! I particularly like the SkyDrive and Storage Spaces features. Also love the improved performance and lower RAM usage over Win 7, especially on old hardware. Will definitely be upgrading. Reply
  • jabber - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    While I'm not too keen on the UI changes I do like the performance tweaks as you say.

    If MS do the near half price discount for pre-orders like they did with 7 I shall be getting in half a dozen copies.
    Reply
  • snoozemode - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    Is that they get rid or redo the damn metro because I am still struggling with Win 8 CP.

    To go to control panel I have to put my mouse up in the right corner and wait.. but no my mouse pointer so happens to go into the next screen 70% of the times, no one at microsoft uses dual monitor setup?

    To shut the computer down I now first have to sign out then shut it off. Reason is?

    And why do I have to pull up a screen lock like on a mobile phone to be able to login, do they think I carry my computer monitor in my pocket?

    And for the love of.. Why the h*ll do I end up in a damn full screen app when I just want to have a quick look at a JPG? A PDF?

    Come on Microsoft. Anand said it all right, you are doing exactly what you've done before (Windows mobile, Windows 7 on touchscreens), just in reverse! Keep metro for touch-devices but give me back full desktop mode for my main computer. Thank you.
    Reply
  • danielkza - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    a) Win -> type 'Control Panel' or a subset of it. Or pin a shortcut to the Start Screen or your desktop...

    b) That's not true at all, you can shutdown through both the Power button in Settings sidebar and through the Alt-F4 menu.

    c) That's clearly targeted at tablets, but you dont have to drag anything, any click or keypress will have the same effect.

    d) You can change the association for JPG files back to Windows Photo Viewer, there's even a popup asking if you want to change the default program when you first open a file of an specific time.

    e) Saying there is no 'full desktop' in Windows 8 is at best misleading, the only thing that was replaced was the Start Menu which is not anything close to a majority of a 'desktop experience'.
    Reply
  • B3an - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - link

    Exactly.

    I'd also like to point out you can just right click where the Start button used to be and you'll now get a new menu showing shortcuts, which includes the Control Panel!

    It's the same with 99% of Metro / Win 8 hating idiots. I think most of them are actually mentally retarded. As you just pointed out all these things can be quickly changed or just done another way. Takes like 20 mins to customize Win 8 and read up on key shortcuts or how to now access things, and thats it, you wont ever have to do it again! Most of Win 8's user settings and customizations are also now synced with SkyDrive, so even if you do a clean install you wont have to setup any of this stuff again.
    Reply
  • snoozemode - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - link

    An OS should be intuitive. All this right clicking, putting mouse pointer in corners, keyboard shortcuts and switching between fullscreen metro apps that can't be closed like normal apps is off-putting and confusing, even to me that started with DOS at 4 years of age. Imagine how it would feel for a kid that have been doing 80% of his/her computing through an iPhone.

    Syncing with the live-account is great.
    Reply
  • snoozemode - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - link

    A. Yes I've done that, but really, is it a good solution that I have to pin everything I previously had easy access to via the start menu?

    B. Alt-F4 is not good at all because I always put the computer to sleep and Alt-F4 closes the current program. The settings sidebar is a mess as I've said because I can't just pull my mouse up in the right corner (and wait....) because of dual monitors (really try this before saying anything).

    C. Sure, but still, why on a computer?

    D. Yes but it's a pain in the ass and something that shouldn't be needed. Why not a general option of "open files in Metro or desktop?"

    E. For me it's a compromised desktop mode, for many people without good computer knowledge the changes will just result in a lot of frustration.
    Reply

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