Microsoft has revealed how Windows 8 will be served. Three dishes are on the main menu – Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro and Windows RT. The first two are similar to those seen in previous versions of Windows, and RT is an edition made for ARM-based processors, used in tablets. For business users, an Enterprise edition is also on the cards.
There are three versions of Windows 8 headed to “normal users” like us, but only two of them will be sold to the public in boxed (or even download) form. Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro are the versions of the OS you’ll be able to buy for your computer.
Windows 8 Pro differs from the normal version by way of “features for encryption, virtualization, PC management and domain
connectivity,” says the official Microsoft blog. “If you are an enthusiast or you
want to use your PC in a business environment, you will want Windows 8
Pro,” it continues.
For those of you still using Windows Media Center, it will be available “as an economical
“media pack” add-on to Windows 8 Pro.”
The standard version will also be available as an upgrade from the Starter and Home versions of Windows 7, just as Windows 8 Pro will be offered as an upgrade from Professional and Ultimate of the current Windows software.
Perhaps the most interesting – and problematic – version of Windows 8 is the one you won’t see on the software shelf at PC World, though. Windows 8 RT is designed for ARM-based devices like tablets, and will only be available to OEMs.
It won’t let you install all the standard Windows software that users of other versions can enjoy – x86 programs won’t work with ARM CPUs, but it does come with Microsoft Office apps installed as standard, unlike the other flavours of Windows 8.
Windows 8 Metro UI
Although limited app support cuts-down the appeal of Windows a bit, Windows RT is otherwise reasonably fully-featured, with support for Desktop, many of core apps, ISO mounting, remote desktop and plenty more. Oddly, it misses out on Windows Media Player, but we’d be surprised if it didn’t pack-in some form of alternative.
The big news about Windows 8 is that it splits the OS into two parts. It has the desktop area that looks and feels quite like Windows 7, and the Metro UI, which looks more like a tablet version of Windows Phone 7 and is designed for touchscreen use. The beta version of Windows 8 has already been released, but the full product will reportedly come out in October.