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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  • damianrobertjones - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - link

    A-ha! Neither Apple or MS home....

    The way of Google... good luck with your data or messing with Linux
  • CU - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    I don't think MythTV will let you even watch DRM'd cable shows unless it is marked copy freely, because MythTV is always recording.
  • RamarC - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    sorry, but with so many streaming video apps/services available, MCE just isn't worth the dev effort. i'm sure there'll be plugins to sage and other DVR apps that will fill the void at a low/free cost.
  • mcnabney - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    Microsoft is clueless.

    They just got finished ripping Drive Extender out of WHS Vail and effectively murdering the platform.

    Now they are adding Drive Extender to Win8.

    Mediacenter is an application that is used by a small percentage of user (don't use their numbers, MS counts every dam business install - of COURSE office computers don't use mediacenter), but is demanded by those that do use it. At first they just won't upgrade, but I am sure that Google will find a way to grab those enthusiasts.

    That is why I said that MS is done. I didn't have a problem using (and paying) for MS products when they literally were a Jack of All Trades. Now they are hobbling themselves to become appliances. Guess what - if I have a choice in the market - MS wouldn't be winning my money if others could easily replace it.
  • B3an - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    Microsoft know exactly what they're doing. No one uses Media Center. I remember MS posted about MC in their blog and it was something less than 1% of people who actually use it on Win 7. It makes perfect sense for MS not to include MC by default!
    Drive Extender (Storage Spaces) features make perfect sense on the other hand. Data integrity, easy mirroring and speed will benefit far more users than media software no one uses. I can see manufactures even shippings PC's with Storage Spaces enabled by default.
  • mcnabney - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    You didn't even read my post. I know it is a minority, but 1% of users is still many millions of active readers.

    And there are plenty of parts of Windows that are used by an extremely small of the installed base. For example - Event Viewer. I would be surprised if 1% of users actually use this application, but Windows would be highly deficient without it.
  • damianrobertjones - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - link

    maybe just spend the extra £30/£40 for something you supposedly use day in, day out. What is the issue? You probably spend more on a couple of meals.

    ANYTHING to complain about...
  • crispbp04 - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    MS is done? With what exactly? Hobbling themselves? You don't understand how enterprise business works. Maybe some day.
  • mcnabney - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    I am actually pretty familiar with that. My business (which employs about 100k people, mostly in the US) is drastically reducing the numbers of laptop/desktops and replacing them with iPads(!!!) and custom Linux-based terminals in sales & support. Windows/Office licensing has gotten expensive enough that the usefulness has been questioned. I am quite frankly surprised with the iPads, but they have been working really well.
  • damianrobertjones - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - link

    Name of company please?

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