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Windows 8 to Come in Three Versions, Here's What They Mean

When Microsoft released Windows 7, the company was roundly criticized for introducing far too many versions of the operating system, with no fewer than six different and confusing SKUs available from the low-end Windows 7 Starter to the mainstream Windows 7 Home Premium and the pricey Windows 7 Ultimate. It seems Redmond has learned from its mistakes as the company announced it will release just two main versions of Windows 8 that consumers and businesses can buy, along with a separate edition that only comes preloaded on tablets with ARM-based processors.

The versions of Windows 8 break down as follows:

  • Windows 8: The main version for consumers, the simply named "Windows 8" has all the features users have come to expect from today's Windows 7 Home Premium and even includes the ability to switch to any language you want, something you couldn't do in prior versions of Windows.
  • Windows 8 Pro: The more-expensive version of windows is designed for businesses and power users and features advanced features like drive encryption, the ability to join domains , the ability to boot from a virtual drive, remote desktop and client hyper-V.Both Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro will be available in 32 or 64-bit flavors.
  • Windows RT: The ARM-based version of Windows will be called Windows RT and will come with its own versions of Microsoft Office, but not the ability to run x86 programs or use Windows Media Player. 

There's no word yet on pricing for the different Windows 8 SKUs. Microsoft has yet to announce a release date for its upcoming OS, though most expect it to arrive sometime in the fall.