Microsoft today unveiled the Windows 8 Product Editions on their Windows Team Blog. There are a couple things we can take from this post. First, Microsoft is slimming down the product editions in Windows 8 and second, Windows 8 is now the official name for the next x86/x64 Windows (note, the importance of x86/x64 here, Windows RT is the official name for Windows on ARM, or WOA, devices).

Windows 8 will include four editions, Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, Windows 8 Enterprise and Windows RT (note, there is no Windows 8 in that last one). Consumers, however, only need to really worry about two editions, Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro. Here’s a bit of a breakdown:

Windows 8. This is the base edition of Windows 8, similar to Windows 7 Home Premium. It will target consumers who need the basics, but don’t need the “enterprise” features that Windows 8 Pro offers. This edition supports upgrading from Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic, and Home Premium.

Windows 8 Pro. This edition, which closely resembles Windows 7 Ultimate, targets power users. This edition includes every feature of Windows 8, with also power user features such as boot from VHD, Hyper-V, and BitLocker encryption, to name a few. This edition supports upgrading from Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate.

Windows RT. This edition only supports Windows on ARM or WOA devices. It is also the only edition to include Microsoft Office by default (however, this will probably be a slimmed down version of Office 15 and not the full version). Because Windows RT will only be installed on new WOA devices, most users will only need to worry about this edition when buying a Windows 8 tablet. Windows RT includes most, but not all, of the features in Windows 8. Users cannot upgrade from any version of Windows 7 to Windows RT.

Windows 8 Enterprise. This edition is specifically for volume licensing customers, and as such, will not matter to consumers very much, if at all (though I’m sure some consumers could get into volume licensing if they wanted/needed to). This edition includes all of the features of Windows 8 Pro.

This is a nice changeup from Microsoft. Users now only have two editions to choose from, which makes the buying decision a little easier, compared to Windows 7’s massive list of SKUs.

If you have any questions about Windows 8, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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