Microsoft: Here are the four editions of Windows 8

Summary:Windows 8 is the official name of the next version of Windows client. Here are details on the four SKUs that are in the pipeline.

Those hoping for fewer Windows editions than in previous versions, your prayers have been answered. Sort of....

It's official as of today, April 16: Windows 8 is the name for the next version of x86/64 edition of Windows. And there will be three four SKUs only.

According to a blog post on the Windows Team Blog, there will be two editions of Windows 8 for x86/64 processors: Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro.

Windows 8 is the consumer SKU. It will include the updated Windows Explorer, Task Tak Manager, better multi-monitor support and the ability to "switch languages on the fly," which previously was only available to those purchasing the Enterprise and Ultimate Editions of Windows .

Windows 8 Pro is for tech enthusiasts and business/technical professionals, and adds features for encryption, virtualization, PC management and domain connectivity. The Windows Media Center functionality will be available as an add-on to Windows 8 Pro, known as the "Media Pack."

Here's the complete feature chart from Microsoft as to which features will be included in which SKU. The WindowsUnleaked.tk site revealed previously the details of these new Window 8 SKUs.

Microsoft is naming the Windows on ARM (WOA) version Windows RT. Yes, another WinRT -- which is the Windows Runtime (WinRT), the new Windows Runtime which is at the heart of the Metro-Style side of Windows 8. The WinRT version is for WOA tablets and PCs only. I guess that means Windows 8 on Intel and AMD processors fall under the two SKU rule: It will be either Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro if you are gravitating toward one of those devices due out later this year.

Update: As Paul Thurrott notes on the Windows SuperSite, there are actually four SKUs, not three. There also will be an Enterprise SKU of Windows 8.

A footnote on the April 16 Windows Team Blog post notes:

"As with previous versions of Windows, we will also have an edition of Windows 8 specifically for those enterprise customers with Software Assurance agreements. Windows 8 Enterprise includes all the features of Windows 8 Pro plus features for IT organization that enable PC management and deployment, advanced security, virtualization, new mobility scenarios, and much more."

Update No. 2: If you really want to split hairs, there are actually five versions. From Microsoft's post: "For China and a small set of select emerging markets, we will offer a local language-only edition of Windows 8."

Topics: Software, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Windows

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Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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