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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  • TEAMSWITCHER - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    The biggest problem with all these Windows 8 versions is that none of them are any good.....
    Windows 8 is a total piece of crap!

    I have found that Windows 8 fails to possess a single redeeming quality. It's a playskool user interface bolted on top of Windows 7 with multiple control panels, multiple task bars, with crappy multiple monitor and virtual machine support. There will be no decent Metro Apps at launch or even two years later that do not also exist on the iPad or Android. And there is no Windows Phone that can compete against the likes of the iPhone 4, 4S, or Galaxy II.

    We are witnessing nothing less than the decline and fall of the once mighty Microsoft. No....sorry....there isn't going to be a comeback this time. Windows 8, and Windows Phone, and Zune, are all proof of this undeniable fact....Microsoft is incapable of establishing a significant beachhead on today's technology landscape.

    Game Over
  • Belard - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    Which version supports multiple languages? With Win7, you need Ultimate Edition to get that - handy for going to websites outside the USA or wherever.

    WMC isn't that big of a deal (Why not toss that into Ultimate?" I have a tuner card and its crappy software because the recordings I make are far easier to work-with. The resources and space required for WMC doesn't work for me.
  • B3an - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - link

    ALL versions of Win 8 support language packs. Theres a section now in the Control Panel where you can easily download any language you like.
  • hamids9898 - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - link

    Microsoft Seems to combine the best aspects of Android and iPhone into one piece of software. Now, if only they could get more developers on board and more flagship devices(Imagine something like the Galaxy Note running Windows Phone).
  • Penti - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - link

    Windows 8 pro isn't directly equivalent to W7 Ultimate it is the equivalent to Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate is the retail equivalent to Windows 7 Enterprise thus it's the analog to Windows 8 Enterprise you get by Software Assurance. On the other hand Windows 8 Professional has the features of the former Ultimate/Enterprise variant. But still yet Windows 8 Enterprise will have features Windows 7 Ultimate or Windows 8 Professional doesn't have.

    "NOTE: As with previous versions of Windows, we will also have an edition of Windows 8 specifically for those enterprise customers with Software Assurance agreements. Windows 8 Enterprise includes all the features of Windows 8 Pro plus features for IT organization that enable PC management and deployment, advanced security, virtualization, new mobility scenarios, and much more. "

    All that means that you will get bitlocker and such in the ordinary business version without Software Assurance though. Other usage scenarios like Windows to Go and MDOP and VDA will require Enterprise. A better chart is actually Wikipedia here,
  • p05esto - Sunday, April 22, 2012 - link

    As long as the pro version comes without the Metro crap that's all I care about. Let the home users deal with that nonsense and productivity limiting Metro BS.

    But who am I kidding, Win8 is on track to be a major failure, far worse than Vista. Vista was actually just fine, I like Vista SP2 better than Win7. There are a number of UI changes in Win7 that I dislike, and MS turned off the ability to customize them without resorting to complex registry hacks.

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