We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
79,812 News Articles

Microsoft confirms four Windows 8 editions

Simplifies product range to make buying and upgrading easier

Microsoft has announced that Windows 8 will come in a set of just four editions.

The firm's next generation operating system is due to launch later this year and will be available in four packages: Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, Windows RT and Windows 8 Enterprise. The move dramatically simplifies the broad range of options available in Windows 7. See also Windows 8: the complete guide.

Customers currently using Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic and Home Premium will be able to upgrade to either Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro. However, those on Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate will only have the option to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro.

Thinking about upgrading to Windows 8? Check out our Top 8 reasons to upgrade to Windows 8.

Microsoft said: "We have talked about Windows 8 as Windows reimagined, from the chipset to the user experience. This also applies to the editions available – we have worked to make it easier for customers to know what edition will work best for them when they purchase a new Windows 8 PC or upgrade their existing PC."

PCs and tablets running on an x86 processor will have the option of plain Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro. The latter is designed for ' tech enthusiasts and business/technical professionals' and offers features like encryption, virtualization, PC management and domain connectivity.

Windows 8 Enterprise is the option, as normal, for businesses with extras such as PC management and deployment and advanced security.

Microsoft has decided to rename the version created for ARM processors to Windows RT, leading to a hefty amount of comments about how confusing and bad the name is. This edition will only come pre-installed on PCs and tablets with ARM chips and will include touch-optimized desktop versions of the Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.

Windows 8 RT will not come with Windows Media Player and not support any installation of x86 software.

For more comprehensive details on the features of each edition check out the table below. The listings show that Microsoft Office will not come bundled with Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro.

The key information we're waiting for now is a price list and a launch date and we'll be sure to update you as soon as we find out.

Feature name

Windows 8

Windows 8 Pro

Windows RT

Upgrades from Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium

x

x

 

Upgrades from Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate

 

x

 

Start screen, Semantic Zoom, Live Tiles

x

x

x

Windows Store

x

x

x

Apps (Mail, Calendar, People, Messaging, Photos, SkyDrive, Reader, Music, Video)

x

x

x

Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote)

   

x

Internet Explorer 10

x

x

x

Device encryption

   

x

Connected standby

x

x

x

Microsoft account

x

x

x

Desktop

x

x

x

Installation of x86/64 and desktop software

x

x

 

Updated Windows Explorer

x

x

x

Windows Defender

x

x

x

SmartScreen

x

x

x

Windows Update

x

x

x

Enhanced Task Manager

x

x

x

Switch languages on the fly (Language Packs)

x

x

x

Better multiple monitor support

x

x

x

Storage Spaces

x

x

 

Windows Media Player

x

x

 

Exchange ActiveSync

x

x

x

File history

x

x

x

ISO / VHD mount

x

x

x

Mobile broadband features

x

x

x

Picture password

x

x

x

Play To

x

x

x

Remote Desktop (client)

x

x

x

Reset and refresh your PC

x

x

x

Snap

x

x

x

Touch and Thumb keyboard

x

x

x

Trusted boot

x

x

x

VPN client

x

x

x

BitLocker and BitLocker To Go

 

x

 

Boot from VHD

 

x

 

Client Hyper-V

 

x

 

Domain Join

 

x

 

Encrypting File System

 

x

 

Group Policy

 

x

 

Remote Desktop (host)

 

x

 

IDG UK Sites

The 30 best TV shows on Netflix UK: Our pick of the best programmes you can watch right now

IDG UK Sites

Nostalgia time: Top 10 best selling mobile phones in history

IDG UK Sites

VFX Emmy: Game of Thrones work garners gong for Rodeo FX

IDG UK Sites

Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina review (2.6GHz, 128GB, mid-2014)