Windows 8 SKUs mentioned on HP.com

Summary:Windows 8 SKUs get a shout-out in some recent documentation on HP.com. Are they the real deal, document placeholders, or something else altogether?

UPDATE: HP has modified the two files to no longer include the Windows 8 SKU references. As such, I've kept the original story below intact, but I've taken screen shots of Google's cached versions of the documents (one and two) before they disappear, so you can see them in their original form. Take from HP's course of action what you will!

During a bout of recent research, I stumbled upon a couple of driver documents on HP's Web site that make mention of a few Windows 8 SKUs -- something Microsoft has yet to relay any specifics about up to this point. Both documents (one and two) are revision notes for the Alcor Micro Smart Card Reader Driver, which, next to a section titled "operating system(s)," lists the following:

Microsoft Windows 8 32 Edition Microsoft Windows 8 64 Edition Microsoft Windows 8 Enterprise 32 Edition Microsoft Windows 8 Enterprise 64 Edition Microsoft Windows 8 Professional 32 Edition Microsoft Windows 8 Professional 64 Edition

To note, Steven Sinofsky broached the topic of Windows 8 SKUs back in September 2011, but he did so in a rather ambiguous manner:

As everyone knows, two things are always the case early on. First, the software is not done and things will change—features will be added and removed. Second, the different editions or SKUs are not developed or announced until late in the development process (closer to market availability).

As an aside, it is early to start the dialogue about a preference for one SKU with Windows. We’re well aware of this feedback and we always need to balance it with the feedback from our business partners who value a different approach. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Interestingly, the feedback about Media Center was predominantly “we will pay extra, just include it” based on the input directly to me. Today Media Center is part of “premium” SKUs for Windows, which means that is the case today.

Back to the documentation I unearthed, there are plenty of similar revision notes from the same time frame that do not list these Windows 8 SKUs, and if anyone would be privy to Windows 8 SKU information at this point, it would be HP. Is this our first glimpse of some finalized Windows 8 SKUs, or is this just documentation filler? If the latter, then why not simply copy the Windows 7 SKUs as a quick, simple template, then replace all the 7s with 8s?

Curious as this is, I decided to dig around Microsoft's Web site to see what I could find. As it turns out, a number of documents (one and two) and MSDN pages make the following references:

For Windows 8 Beta SKUs: The name of the product is used. For example, for Windows 8 Enterprise, the string "Windows 8 Enterprise" is used.

For Windows Server 8 Beta SKUs: the name of the product is used. For example, for Windows Server 8 Enterprise, the string "Windows Server 8 Enterprise" is used.

All Windows 8 systems targeted for client SKUs are required to support a graphics mode via UEFI GOP.

Does that mean we will soon see SKUs make their grand reappearance in the Windows 8 beta (a.k.a. "Consumer Preview") build? Perhaps. While I was searching, I also found a document that quite nicely shows exactly which flavors of Windows 8 we will have (though not particular SKUs for each):

Those are all publicly known, but I thought it was a nice way to show the various Windows 8 flavors that we may well see various SKUs from in the near future. So, what do you think? Are you looking forward to having SKUs to choose from in Windows 8, or are you hoping Microsoft will keep it simple with the 4 options pictured above? Let us know what you think!

-Stephen Chapman

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Topics: Operating Systems, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Software, Windows

About

Stephen is a freelance writer and blogger based in Charlotte, NC. His contributions to ZDNet cover topics related to security, gaming, Microsoft, Apple, and other topics of interest with a tech/SMB skew.

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