Microsoft is expected to release Windows 8 in the second half the year. We’ve heard a lot about the new features including a new Metro-style touch-friendly user interface, support for ARM-based chips, and a new Windows Store for apps.

Now Microsoft has also unveiled that Windows 8 will come in four different versions:

  • Windows 8
  • Windows 8 Pro
  • Windows 8 Enterprise
  • Windows RT

Windows RT is the new name for Windows on ARM. You’ll get the same basic Windows interface as you get with the other versions, but Windows RT will only be able to run apps that are specifically written for ARM architecture.

Interestingly, Windows RT is the only version of Windows 8 that will come with a version of Microsoft Office pre-installed.

This version of the operating system also won’t be sold directly to consumers. It will come preloaded on tablets, notebooks, and other devices. You won’t be able to install yourself or upgrade from earlier versions of Windows.

Windows 8 is basically the new Windows Home Premium… but without the Home Premium label. This is the version of the operating system that will probably come preloaded on your next computer, and it includes all the basic Windows features, minus a few technical bits that you might not need anyway.

If you do need encryption, group policies, and remote desktop features, then you can buy or upgrade to Windows 8 Pro.

Windows 8 Enterprise is basically the Pro version plus some additional features that should be helpful to corporate IT folks.

Windows 8 versions

Noticeably absent from the list? Windows 8 Starter or Basic. It looks like Microsoft may be phasing out its low cost version of Windows designed specifically for netbooks.

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14 replies on “Windows 8 will come in four flavors”

  1. Wait, you mean there wont be that bastardized half assed version where you could only run 1 thing at a time?

    1.  Starter Edition was never limited to 1 thing at a time, though it does have other silly limitations, but yes… it seems like its days are numbered.

  2. so microsofz and intel intend to kill the never loved by them netbooks by brute force ….. 

    1.  An odd interpretation, since neither Intel or MS are doing anything yet that would kill netbooks.  At worst they’re just not emphasizing them and putting all the focus on mobile/tablets and laptop/desktops.

      1. well delivering an OS with specs that are not really compatible with netbooks (so far) and campaigning against the netbook species from the beginning of its existence (and no words over continuing win 7 btw) …..i think it’s all said, no need to play naive

        1. Not playing naive, just pointing out your interpretation is not true.

          Windows 8 has already been demonstrated to run on netbooks!

          The only netbook spec that is a problem is the screen resolution of the 10″ models but so is most other older devices with a less than 720P screen resolution.

          Larger netbooks do have 1366×720 screens, along with a few rare 10″ models.

          Mind that the next gen ATOM’s are suppose to be having a GMA based on the Ivy Bridge HD 4000, which can support DX11 and up to full 4K resolution.

          While it’s apparent that higher resolution screens are becoming the norm for tablets and that means it’ll soon become the norm for netbooks as well.

          So the only reason they haven’t already is because those screens are still more expensive than the older screens, but as they become mainstream the prices will drop and then the netbook makers can start using them.

          Really, both ATOM and AMD Fusion chips can already support higher resolution.  Even if there was still a limit on LVDS resolution for the ATOM the Cedar Trail ATOM’s already support eDP for internal display port that can easily support the resolutions that best work with Windows 8.

          While Intel also has the higher clocked 1.7GHz N2650 and 2GHz N2850 to provide a small performance boost before the next gen 22nm ATOMs come out early next year.

          So at the very least Intel is not doing anything to stop netbooks and MS is just making no distinctions between netbooks and other devices of the same size.

        2. I’m running Windows 8 on a three year old netbook.  It runs better than Windows 7 did.  Boots up in 8 seconds compared to almost 40 for windows 7.  Runs everything else pretty well too.  HD video is still a no-go though.

      2.  I dont think you were following the whole netbook thing the Cybergus.

        Why do you think ALMOST EVERY effing netbook is 1gb ram with 250G hd? Why do you think that SD drives became verboten?

        MS fingerprints are found all over the neck of the netbook, lets not start with the ‘they were an innocent bystander’ when the pressure they put on OEM’s was well documented.

        1. Actually few people have followed netbooks more closely than CyberGusa. I think what he’s saying here is that in theory, not offering Windows 8 Starter has nothing to do with killing of netbooks.

          The first netbooks ran Windows XP. Then Microsoft released Windows 7 Starter Edition, a stripped down version of Win7 that it could offer netbook makers at a lower price as a substitute for XP. 

          The reason for the limitations on RAM and storage were because netbook makers wanted to qualify for those low cost licenses… it probably didn’t hurt that meeting those specs also allowed them to keep the rest of their costs low.

          Windows 8 Consumer Preview runs perfectly well on mini-laptops with Intel Atom or similar processors, just like Windows 7 Home Premium or Ultimate do. But it looks like Microsoft may not offer a cheaper option for netbook makers, so it will be up to them to decide whether to offer a standard Windows 8 license, hang onto Windows 7 Starter as long as they can, or seek alternatives such as Ubuntu Linux. 

          Incidentally, most current netbooks are going to have one major issue with Windows 7 anyway — Microsoft has set a minimum screen resolution for Metro apps at 1024 x 768, while most (but not all) netbooks have 1024 x 600 pixel displays. 

          Anyway, this may all be academic. A few years ago virtually every PC maker had a netbook to offer. So far this year we’ve only seen a few new models hit the streets as computer manufacturers transition to higher performance (and higher priced) machines such as ultrabooks or the more trendy tablets.

          I suspect we’ll continue to see 10 inch, inexpensive mini-laptops for some time to come, with or without Windows 8. But they won’t be as common as they were a few years ago and they’ll share the market with tablets, convertible tablets, and larger laptops. 

        2.  Gaston, as Brad already stated, I’ve followed netbooks more closely than most people.  In fact, when not commenting on them I’m usually helping people with their netbooks.

          The actual history of netbooks is that it basically established a low cost basic mini-laptop market. 

          Problem for Intel and MS at the time was that the profit margins were much smaller than the rest of the market and they didn’t want that trend to spread.

          So they established limitations that both helped netbooks become as affordable as possible as well as established clear distinctions to separate them from the rest of the market.

          This was all fine and good when there was no real competition for netbooks and they were good enough for their intended purpose.

          Even the 5 year product cycle was to help reduce cost but it also meant little to no change to netbooks over the last 5 years.

          This however is all changing now that both Intel and MS want to get into the mobile market.  Intel has already pretty much eliminated all the previous limitations and most now are just to keep pricing low.

          Windows 7 Starter Edition is now really the only reason why netbooks are still sold with only 1GB of RAM.

          The newer Cedar Trail N2800 even supports up to 4GB of RAM, Intel just hasn’t released 64bit drivers for the GMA yet.

          While starting with the next 22nm update, the ATOM will officially be switched to the same 2 year product cycle as Intel’s main chip lines like the Core i-series is on.

          So if MS does away with Starter Edition then that means there is no longer any arbitrary limitations to hold netbooks back.

          It’s just a question of whether they will merge into the mobile market or remain separate in the gray area between mobile devices and regular laptops.

          Rather Ultrabooks are the new separator between what would be considered netbooks and their higher end products.

          However, consumer desire for a low cost solution hasn’t change.  The demand for ever cheaper tablets clearly shows this market segment still remains strong. 

          Netbooks are just in a lull because of market saturation, most people who want netbooks already have them, and we’ve yet to see the next gen offerings and we’re still stuck with the products from the original slow 5 year product cycle.  So there is yet nothing to really motivate people to want to get  a newer model yet.

          The release of Windows 8 will be the telling point as to whether netbooks will really start to be pushed again or whether the market will rather go towards something of a hybrid like product that can be both a netbook and a tablet… kinda like the Asus Transformer but more useful.

          Otherwise we’ll see how things go in 2013 when the ATOM goes 22nm and gets its first real architectural update since pretty much it was first introduced.

  3. I like simplified versioning.  However I remember with Windows 7 they said there would be simplified versioning but we still ended up with a lot of different versions.

    Windows RT is a weird naming.  I wonder what it stands for?  It’s confusing because the new programming API framework is called WinRT.

    1.  RT stands for “RunTime,” in reference to WinRT, the Windows Runtime Library.  Like how XP stood for “eXPerience” and ME stood for “Millennium Edition”.

      Theories on why they decided on this name instead of just Windows 8 on ARM varies…

      Though, they probably decided upon it to deal with licensing purposes.  To basically exclude Windows on ARM from automatic updates as some companies get with long term licenses.  Along with them making sure Windows on ARM comes only in OEM pre-install and has no retail version for better control on their part.

      However, it could be just to make sure consumers know that the ARM based Windows systems won’t be able to run legacy apps by emphasizing what it can run.  Since the WinRT is what will allow for cross platform apps.

  4. Interesting, considering the last rumored versions list for Windows 8 was for 9 different versions but it would make more sense for them to simplify the list.

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