Microsoft cuts version confusion, offers three consumer flavours of Windows 8

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Microsoft has today announced the editions for Windows 8; and has basically dumped the “Home Basic”, “Home Premium”, “Business” and “Ultimate” editions found on Windows Vista and 7, replacing them with the much more defined “Windows 8” and “Windows 8 Pro”.

What’s the difference between “Windows 8” and “Windows 8 Pro”? According to Microsoft:

For many consumers, Windows 8 will be the right choice. It will include all the features above plus an updated Windows Explorer, Task Manager, better multi-monitor support and the ability to switch languages on the fly…

Windows 8 Pro is designed to help tech enthusiasts and business/technical professionals obtain a broader set of Windows 8 technologies… If you are an enthusiast or you want to use your PC in a business environment, you will want Windows 8 Pro.

Windows Media Center, which has been included in some versions of Windows Vista and Windows 7, will now no longer be included. However, Microsoft will bundle it within a “media pack” add-on for Windows 8 Pro – which goes to tell you that not many people knew what it was for. (It was a way to make your PC like a DVR).

Windows 8 Pro also includes BitLocker, Boot from VHD, Client Hyper-V, Domain Join, Group Policy and Remote Desktop. There will also be an enterprise version of Windows 8 – which is essentially the same as Windows 8 Pro, but with features that are more specific for IT organisations. The enterprise edition will not be on sale for consumers.

But, that’s only two? Where’s the third?

The third is Windows on ARM – now known as Windows RT. Why the name RT, we have no idea. But this version will be only installed on Windows PCs and tablets that run on ARM processors, and will pretty much have the same features as Windows 8 – except that it will have Microsoft Office installed, and no Windows Media Player.

In terms of upgrading, those on Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic and Home Premium can upgrade to Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro. However, Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Ultimate users can only upgrade to Windows 8 Pro – meaning that if you want to use the standard Windows 8 version, you’ll have to do a clean install.

You can see all the features in its blog post. No release date or pricing has been revealed as of yet, however.

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