Microsoft this afternoon announced plans to simplify the way it packages and sells Windows, announcing that the next version of the operating system will come in only three editions: Windows 8 for consumers, Windows 8 Pro for enthusiasts and business professionals, and a special version called Windows RT for ARM processors.

It’s a significant streamlining of the Windows product lineup, responding to a longstanding criticism of the Microsoft operating system and its complicated array of editions for businesses and consumers.

The new Windows 8 editions were announced today in this Windows blog post, along with a chart showing the capabilities of each version.

“We have talked about Windows 8 as Windows reimagined, from the chipset to the user experience,” writes Microsoft’s Brandon LeBlanc. “This also applies to the editions available – we have worked to make it easier for customers to know what edition will work best for them when they purchase a new Windows 8 PC or upgrade their existing PC.”

Windows 7 comes in six main editions, including Windows 7 Home Basic, Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Enterprise and Windows 7 Ultimate.

Microsoft still isn’t saying when Windows 8 will come out, but it’s widely expected this year.

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  • Guest

    Yeah, the whole windows8 vs. Windows8 RT is going to be a big messaging problem.  Pre-fragmenting your tablet ecosystem … that’s not going to be pretty.  Not for consumers, not for devs.

    • Todd Bishop

      My understanding is that Windows on ARM won’t be available as a standalone product, it will only come preinstalled on new devices. That would seem to minimize the consumer confusion, at least.

      • BogenDorpher

        You are right. And it wont be called Windows 8 RT, it is called Windows RT

        • Guest

          This does not make it better.  So with this device I get Windows8, and this one I get Windows….what?  Windows8, Windows7?  WindowsME?  Huh?


        • Guest

          What happens after version 1? Will it really be called Windows RT2? Windows 9 RT? Face it, this naming is as poorly thought out as the WOA product itself. It seems like even MS can’t remember why they decided to do it.

          • George Sabourin

            What else can they have called it?
            Windows ARM won’t work as it’ll be on all ARM devices, and they’d still have to call it ARM2 anyway. Also ARM is trademarked.
            Windows Tablet wouldn’t work as it can be used on all ARM devices, not just tablets.
            It’s not Windows 8 X because it’s avoiding customers thinking it’s the same thing. While it’ll be based on Windows 8, it won’t have desktop legacy applications apart from Office 15, and Explorer.

      • Guest

        Minimize the version confusion. Not necessarily minimize the expectation confusion, particularly when those consumers see Windows_anything that can’t run legacy Windows apps.

  • Guest

    In my opinion, that’s still one edition too many. Why must I be made to buy a “Pro” version to use features as fundamental as Windows Media Center and Remote Desktop?

    Memo to Microsoft: Thanks, but just Windows/x86 and Windows/ARM will do.

  • BogenDorpher

    Sign me up for Windows 8 PRO!

  • Guest

    Even by the exceedingly low product naming expectatations MS has set, Windows RT is terrible. What twisted logic determined that was a good idea? Why did Ballmer approve it? Oh right, he never worries about the details. Are they hoping people will drop the Windows on that one and just refer to it as RT? Are they too stupid to see the immediate joke names that will appear, like Real Terrible?

    This was a great oportunity for MS to dump the Windows name, at least for this segment of their business. Advantages: Windows doesn’t mean new or sexy to anyone. Anything new would at least have a chance of doing so. Also, by not calling it Windows, which in many ways it isn’t, they could avoid the inevitable confusion that will result when Joe user buys his new Windows RT tablet (if any people do) and goes to run some Win32 app, only to find out it’s not supported. Then they’ll sue and MS will likely settle.

  • Guest

    Looking at the checklist for each version is pretty interesting.  No Bitlocker or encrypted FS for WindowsRT?  Instead it has “device encryption”?  The ARM tablet has a different means for securing data?  That ought to sell well into enterprise :-!

    No RDP?

    If you buy an ARM tablet you get Office apps bundled for free, if you get an Intel tablet they’re not?  Wait, What?  Am I reading this right?

  • TheSoftware Junction

    and then we will have Windows 8 SP1 , SP2 and so on.

  • Derrik Jacobson

    All that I care about is whether or not I can still play SkiFree on it. #ScaryYeti

    • Amy CT

      I have been working (if you can call it that) in Windows 8 CP.  It is a mess. I also have a Windows phone which is a blessed gadget.  I believed that Windows 8 was Microsoft’s chance to blow away the competition with an integrated enterprise product going across platforms with consistent interface and SECURITY.  What a mess they’re making of the situation.

      And, please, please bring back the Start button for mouse/keypad products.

  • Wizz

    Windows 7 comes in six main editions, including Windows 7 Home Basic, Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Enterprise and Windows 7 Ultimate.
    Another one whom failed math lol.

    • Todd Bishop

      Thanks for the comment. The word ‘including’ means it is not a comprehensive list.

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