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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  • Taft12 - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    To me this is where they blew it most with Vista (and didn't fix it enough with 7) Simplify your offerings!!! Reply
  • RamarC - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    they did simplify!
    "Windows 8 Pro, which is analogous to Windows 7 Ultimate...
    This is as simple as the WIndows product stack has been since Windows XP"
    now there's just a biz edition and a consumer edition. no crippled 'standard' edition and Pro includes everything for $20 more. and most consumers don't need the biz edition features ("Bitlocker, EFS, the ability to boot from VHDs and host Remote Desktop sessions, the ability to join Active Directory domains")
    Reply
  • Zink - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    sigh Reply
  • AnotherGuy - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    lol Reply
  • coder543 - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    Simplify and don't list the same feature over and over...

    My Question: Why does Microsoft mention encryption THREE TIMES in the feature list? I don't understand. It's like a product that has no features... you keep reiterating the same one feature over and over to make it feel more featured.

    (note: I rearranged the list so they would fit in one screenshot, but they really are there.)
    http://i.imgur.com/jFql0.png
    Reply
  • damianrobertjones - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - link

    How did they 'blow it' with anything? I'd prefer CHOICE than limited options.

    At times I find that people will find ANYTHING to complain about.
    Reply
  • Taft12 - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - link

    You prefer it, and most of the time I do too, but consumers don't want many choices in a product line. Business school textbook stuff. Reply
  • mcnabney - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    Windows Mediacenter now is a paid extra and is only available with PRO!

    Looks like Win7 isn't getting upgraded and I might never have another Microsoft desktop.
    Reply
  • A5 - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    Well, the only reason to use WMC over the various Linux options now is if you need to watch/record DRM'd cable shows (and even then MythTV will let you watch, but not record).

    Sadly, they're the only game in town for a good cablecard-based DVR system, though.
    Reply
  • mcnabney - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    That is what I assume will happen. A nice media-focused distro of Linux that will run on some low-power hardware and provide recording and streaming functionality. My WHS (v1) box will replaced with a NAS and my gaming HTPCs will be replaced by a PS4 and a dockable high performance tablet. My Win7 HTPC will probably stick around for a long time - serving only to play my existing games+Steam. A post-PC world need not have anything to do with Apple. Reply

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