Windows Secrets: Windows 8 Versions Explained

microsoft windows 8 versions

By Woody Leonhard/Windows Secrets Newsletter

Taking stock of Windows 8 versions

Microsoft just released details on the versions of Windows 8 it’ll offer when the OS ships — most likely sometime in October.

Although the company will simplify the current huge array of Windows versions with Win8, the choices are really not any simpler at all.

Microsoft used to have a simple, small set of SKUs (stock-keeping units — what you and I would call versions) for Windows. For example, XP first shipped with just two: Windows XP Home Edition and Windows XP Professional. XP Professional added the ability to join a domain and to act as a server (a host or, as I like to say, a “puppet”) in a Remote Desktop session: it included Encrypting File System (EFS), Group Policy Editor, and a handful of lesser features.

Then the proverbial hit the fan. Within two years we had Windows XP Starter Edition, Media Center Edition, and Tablet PC Edition — all of which were available only as preinstalled software on new systems (in theory). XP Professional was also released in 64-bit versions (which worked on alternate Tuesdays) for Itanium (Wikipedia info page) and Itanium 2 processors. (The original XP Pro 64 was released simultaneously with XP Pro, but I don’t think it worked until years later.) Then there was the XP Professional x64 Edition.

That murky situation wasn’t made any clearer with Vista — and Windows 7 followed in Vista’s footsteps.

Given that history, there was hope that Microsoft would finally reduce the version complexity and give us — well, uh — just Windows 8. But in an April 16 post, Microsoft’s irrepressible Brandon LeBlanc announced the range of Windows 8 versions/SKUs the company plans to offer.

Here’s the rest of the story…

This post is excerpted with permission from Windows Secrets.

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