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.

Proudly sponsored by Trend Micro

Previous chapter: The Control Panel and other system settings

Next chapter: How do I get Windows 8?

Go back to the index

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Elias Plastiras
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?