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Windows 8 Operating System Versions

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Windows 8 comes in four versions – Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, Windows RT and Windows 8 Enterprise. Compared to Windows 7 which came in confusing 6 versions, Microsoft made it less complicated this time with only 4 versions. While Windows 8, Pro and Enterprise edition is meant for a PC or Laptop with intel or AMD processors, Windows RT is made for the tablet platform.

Upgrade Path for Windows 8

For Windows XP users, there is no upgrade path for Windows 8. They will have to do a clean installation if they need to install Windows 8.

Regarding Windows Vista, Microsoft have not made it clear the upgrade path. Will keep you updated as soon as the details are revealed.

Customers using Windows 7 Starter edition, Home Basic and Home Premium will be able to upgrade directly to Windows 8. Windows 7 Pro and Ultimate edition users can upgrade directly to Windows 8 Pro. Windows RT are only used in tablets and the operating system cannot be bought. It comes inbuilt in tablets armed with ARM processors.

Difference between different versions of Windows 8

Windows 8 is the basic version. It will have all the features required for a Home PC or a normal user. Windows 8 Pro on the other hand will be a more advanced version. According to Microsoft, it is designed for tech enthusiasts and tech professionals. It offers features including encryption, virtualization, PC Management and Domain connectivity. Intriguingly, Windows Media Center is an add on and needs to be purchased separately. Windows 8 Enterprise Edition is the biggest edition of all and is designed for large size businesses. In addition to all features in Windows 8 Pro, it offers features for advanced PC Management and deployment, virtualization, mobility features and advanced security features.

Windows RT is designed for PC and devices with ARM processors. Not much people are happy about the name RT which stands for “Run Time”. Unfortunately, you cannot install Windows RT on a device with ARM processor. You cannot buy it. This version comes pre-installed on ARM devices.

Which version is right for you?

Your parents or cousins may not need advanced features such as joining a domain or use group policy. If all they need is browse websites, run some applications, listen to music, play some games, then they can simply go for Windows 8.

If you are a techie guy and you like to use features such as Bit locker, Encrypted File System for encrypting and protecting data, then Windows 8 Pro is for you. Windows 8 Pro also allows you to boot from a VHD (Virtual Hard Disk). Also if you currently use Windows 7 Pro and Ultimate edition, then you have the upgrade to Windows 8 Pro.

Windows Business edition is definitely for the corporate business. Big Businesses will definitely go for this version for its advanced PC Management and Security features.

Not much to talk about Windows RT as there is not much decision to be made. If you are looking for a tablet device or a device run by an ARM processor, Windows RT comes pre-installed with it. They will have touch optimized desktop versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and One Note. Also they support hardware accelerated HTML 5.0 and IE 10. But it doesn’t have any support for Windows Media Player and won’t allow any windows compatible application to be installed.

Even though Windows RT is very different from the rest of the versions of Windows 8, metro style apps which can be bought from windows store work the same in all platforms. It means if you buy an app on your PC, you will be able to run on your tablet as well.

Editions of Windows 8 (Updated on Nov 2012 after the release of Windows 8)

Windows 8

  • For Home Users
  • support touchscreen or mouse/keyboard
  • support for language switching which was only available in the ultimate versions of previous OS
  • Updated Task Manager,Windows Explorer and multi monitor support

Windows 8 Pro

  • For Tech enthusiasts and business users
  • Provides advanced features such as encryption, virtualization, PC Management and domain connectivity
  • Windows Media Center supported as an additional add-on

Windows RT (Runtime)

  • This version comes pre-installed in tablets or ARM based devices
  • This cannot be installed on PC’s with x86/x64 architecture
  • Includes touch optimized version of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote
  • Runs touch oriented apps designed for Windows RT

Windows 8 Enterprise Edition

  • Comes with Software Assurance (SA) agreement
  • Includes all features of Windows 8 Pro
  • Advanced security features included
  • PC management and deployment
  • virtualization
  • new mobility features

Hope this article gave you enough information to take a decision on which version to go for when Windows 8 is finally released. There are still some grey regions which are yet to be confirmed by Microsoft. But Windows 8 definitely rock and will live up to its expectations.

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