Windows 8 SKUs mentioned on

Windows 8 SKUs mentioned on

Summary: Windows 8 SKUs get a shout-out in some recent documentation on 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

Related Content:

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

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • I don't know what all this preoccupation with the SKUs is all about

    The likelihood of there being any surprises when they are finally announced are practically nil.
    Michael Kelly
  • Kinda hard to have proper drivers...

    ...when the Windows Driver Kit beta/preview isn't even available yet. Ditto for the Hardware Certification Kit.

    Not to mention that the document is dated 2011.

    This has to be taken with a grain of salt.
    • Not correct.

      The WDK preview was released at the same time Windows 8 Developer Preview /VS was made available.
      Within Rafael
  • Asus Transformer?

    Just wondering why you have a picture of the Asus Transformer in the article? I couldn't find any mention of it, or any other tablet.
  • who cares about SKU count?

    If you have about 2 billion users (counting the pirated copies) do you expect to have all of those people fit into one of four segments? There are only 2 SKUs for Tesla cars, Ford has over 100. Does this mean more people buy Teslas or does it mean that more people will find the feature set and price they like among 100 choices?
    • I think the point is that Microsoft and its OEMs have discovered ...

      ... that no one really wants a "feature poor" Starter Edition or even a Basic Edition. They want an edition with everything they need to do at home and/or they want an edition that does everything they need to do on their workplace network. The Enterprise Edition will so it all and the Server Edition will meet the needs of the Enterprise machine room.
      M Wagner
      • Blame Intel!

        It's Intel who pushes Microsoft to release feature-lacking versions of Windows to compensate for their underpowered chips.
  • This looks like a simplified SKU list to me!

    Ignoring architectural variants (e.g. ARM, x86 and x64), it looks like we may see a simplified SKU list:

    Windows 8
    Windows 8 Pro
    Windows 8 Enterprise (Pro + volume licensing)

    That would make a great deal of sense to me - I am not sure we need Windows Starter, Home Premium, Pro, Ultimate and Enterprise. The former and latter aren't available in the retail market (they're OEM/Enterprise-only), but that still leaves a choice of 3. Reducing this to a choice of 2 would, I think, be a good thing.
    • Pro is for... support. Basically, it's AD connection support (domain-join, group policy, DirectAccess, etc.), RDP Host, probably client Hyper-V too, maybe Boot-to-VHD (or that might be in Enterprise).

      And Enterprise is offered through buyers getting SA with their licensing. Enterprise has the multi-VM support (exactly like Server Enterprise - 4 guest VM's).
  • windows 8

    it will not be on my computer i do not like spyware on my pc and i do not like windows 8 you can not put anything on your computer but you cansync to it only
    and it is in the cloud that has been hacked some many times over so i say HELL NO
    • What spyware? Nor will you be required to use the cloud.

      You will be able to load your applications locally, just like you do now.
      M Wagner
  • Three Intel editions certainly makes sense ...

    ... Windows 8, Windows 8 Professional, and Windows 8 Enterprise is simple and straightforward - thought I am a little surprised that Microsoft is still maintaining x86 (32-bit) versions of all three.

    Windows 8 Server (x64-only) and Windows 8 ARM (one edition) also makes perfect sense.

    I can hardly wait!
    M Wagner
    • Not sure about x86 either

      "x86" computers have to be x64-compliant now according to the WinQual site, so I'm not sure why they put this in there. Probably more Intel bullcrap with low-cost Atom's (I bet the first Atom SoC's will be 32-bit only).

      ARM is only 32-bit though. There are no 64-bit ARM chips yet because ARM Holdings hasn't created a standardized spec for it. AMD is working with ARM to implement it without breaking 32-bit compatibility though (like they did with x86).
  • Hmmmmm

    I'll assume the term "Home" or "Home Premium" is toast? Or maybe they could but the "Windows 8 Starter" could still exist for netbooks and low cost systems for developing regions.
  • Too many SKUs

    Once upon a time (back in the Win2K and XP days), it was Home/Professional/Server/Enterprise (which back then meant a super-server version.)

    I suppose the 64/32 split is making it look worse than it really is, though.
  • Windows 8

    Did you guys notice it that they were called "Windows 8"?