23 Apr 2012

Microsoft recently released details on the four editions of Windows 8 that will be available later this year, including details on WOA now strangely renamed Windows RT.

Windows 8 will be the official product name for the x86 and x64 editions of Windows running on Intel.  The PCs and tablets powered by 32 and 64-bit x86 chips will be Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro, which consumers can purchase.  There will be another edition of the x86-optimized version of Windows 8 for bulk purchase.  Windows RT is only available pre-installed and is 32-bit only.

The reduction to four editions, two of which most consumers will have to choose from, shows that Microsoft has simplified the product SKUs, unlike years past. 

Windows RT is slightly different than the x86 versions of Windows 8.  Obviously since Windows RT is pre-installed, there is no upgrade path from Windows 7, unlike Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro.  And Windows RT will not have Windows Media Center or Storage Spaces.

Windows RT does gain Device Encryption and the touch-optimized bundled version of the next Office release (Word, Excel, OneNote, PowerPoint).  With Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro you must purchase Office separately.

Windows 8 Pro is geared more for the tech enthusiast or the business professional.  Windows 8 Pro will have all the features of Windows 8 including encryption, virtualization, PC management and domain connectivity.  The biggest change here, which will affect many Media Center enthusiasts, is that to get Windows Media center, you must purchase a "media pack" add-on for Windows 8 Pro.  You can't get Windows Media Center with Windows 8, only the Pro edition. 

The Tech-Stew Take Home

Microsoft has done consumers a favor by simplifying the choices of products with Windows 8, at least compared to the past.  However, there are some areas that will still cause confusion and frustration for many.  They will most likely confuse consumers with Windows RT (not to mention its confusing name).  Since Windows 8 can run on a tablet and Windows RT can also run on a tablet (ARM), this is where things may be confusing for many.  The biggest change here is that you must purchase Windows 8 Pro to gain Windows Media Center.  Perhaps Microsoft's thinking is that many aren't using Media Center or maybe this is their way of gauging whether it is still widely used.  Either way, it adds a burden to the consumer when they need Media Center, perhaps for cablecard or home theater needs.  Now the consumer must purchase a beefier operating system version, which many won't need.

Source:  windowsteamblog.com

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