Chapter 13: What are the different versions of Windows 8?

Now that you know about Windows 8's main features and all-new design, you might be wondering what different versions are available to you. Unlike Windows 7, which has multiple consumer versions that cater to different users — from Home Premium, which has all the basic features you'll need, to Pro, which has more advanced features, to Ultimate, which has all the available features — Windows 8 only has two consumer versions that can be purchased. The two versions are simply Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro.

Windows 8 is designed for home users who don't require any advanced features. It offers the updated version of Windows Explorer, the new version of the Task Manager, it has multi-monitor support, and it gives you the ability to change languages on-the-fly. In Windows 7, changing languages was reserved for the Ultimate and Enterprise editions only.

Windows 8 Pro has all of the features of Windows 8, but it's designed for business users and tech enthusiasts who need more advanced features. It includes more network features, such as Domain connectivity, it supports virtualisation and encryption as well as more PC management features, and it allows you to install Windows Media Centre as an optional add-on pack. Indeed, Windows Media Centre is not offered with Windows 8 as a standard feature; it can't play DVDs and Blu-ray discs natively, so Windows Media Centre or third-party decoding software will be needed.

Windows RT, or Windows on ARM (WOA), is not an operating system that you will be able to purchase on its own, but it's another version of Windows that will be available for low-cost tablets. Windows RT will only be pre-installed on tablet devices that run an ARM processor. These tablets won't be able to run x86-based apps such as the Microsoft Office suite that you might have installed on your desktop computer; instead, Windows RT tablets will run touch-based applications and optimised versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, and these specific apps will not be able to run on the desktop (x86) versions of Windows 8.

Finally, Windows 8 Enterprise will also be available for corporations that will be deploying Windows 8 across vast networks of computers. It will offer all the features of Windows 8 Pro, in addition to better security and mobility features. One of these mobility features is called Windows To Go, which essentially lets IT administrators run a Windows 8 environment off an external storage device on practically any computer.

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Next chapter: How do I get Windows 8?

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