Windows 8 optimize

Microsoft Windows 8 will have only four versions

For most of us, there are going to be three versions of Windows 8 to choose from, with each offering distinct feature sets. That's progress toward simplicity at least.

On April 16, 2012, Microsoft revealed its intended versions of the Windows 8 operating system. The one noticeable piece of good news in the announcement is that there are fewer versions for consumers and businesses to keep track of this time. However, there still are four versions available, although one will be marketed only to the company's enterprise customers with Software Assurance agreements.

Break it down

With one possible exception, the versions of Windows 8 should come as no surprise to anyone who has ever bought a Windows PC or Windows upgrade, but we should break it down just the same. The four Windows 8 versions are:

  • Windows 8
  • Windows 8 Pro
  • Windows RT
  • Windows 8 Enterprise (Pro plus enterprise management tools)

Windows 8 will include an updated Windows Explorer, Task Manager, better multi-monitor support, and the ability to switch languages on the fly. Windows 8 Pro will add encryption, virtualization, more management tools, and domain connectivity.

Windows RT is the new wrinkle in the lineup since it is the ARM-only version of Windows 8. Windows RT will be available only pre-installed on PCs and tablets configured with an ARM processor. The Windows RT devices will also ship with touch-optimized versions of Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote).

The Windows Blog announcing these Windows 8 versions includes a very long table comparing features in each version of the operating system. I'm just going to highlight a few in Table A.

Table A

Feature name

Windows 8

Windows 8 Pro

Windows RT

Upgrades from Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium

X

X

Upgrades from Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate

X

Start screen, Semantic Zoom, Live Tiles

X

X

X

Windows Store

X

X

X

Apps (Mail, Calendar, People, Messaging, Photos, SkyDrive, Reader, Music, Video)

X

X

X

Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote)

X

Internet Explorer 10

X

X

X

Desktop

X

X

X

Installation of x86/64 and desktop software

X

X

Noteworthy

There are two additional aspects worth noting. Apparently, the Windows 8 Pro version is not going to include the Windows Media Center by default. You will have to acquire a media pack add-on that Microsoft has categorized as "economical" if you want both Pro and WMC.

You should also note that there will be no direct upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 8. Just as it was with Windows 7, Windows XP users are going to have to do a full install. I know all the XP users hate to hear that, but they should not be surprised by it anymore.

Bottom line

Microsoft has not given us any pricing information, which, for many of us, will be a deciding factor when considering an upgrade. In general, I like Windows 8 OK, although I would be in desktop mode all the time since I have no touch-based devices. I'll withhold upgrade decisions, however, until the final product is available.

Is Windows 8 in your future?

Also read

About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

54 comments
pizza7
pizza7

A lot of companies just went with Windowns 7 and it was hard work to do it. Most will skip this. Why Gartner insists that Microsoft churn out versions so quickly is beyond me. No company is going to upgrade everytime a new version comes out. They should fix Windows 7 first which still has some things that need improvement...like the Search capability. An OS should be out a good 5 years before they try to sell us another one. A lot of things have to happen in the meantime. You need software to be upgraded to run on a new OS, you need drivers to catch up, you need people to upgrade their skills or at least get some familiarity to the new OS, you probably need to upgrade your hardware, and you need to justify the funding to go to a new OS. I will probably have it at home sooner or later but will probably give it time for software and drivers to get caught up. I am not going to be an early adopter and live through the pain.

jfuller05
jfuller05

No I don't need to upgrade. Like you, I would be in the desktop all of the time anyway so there is no compelling reason for me to upgrade. However, if and when I purchase a tablet in the future it will be a windows 8 based tablet.

JJFitz
JJFitz

Most of the computers at my company are 3 to 5 years old running on Windows XP. I have plenty of spare XP boxes to replace the ones in the field as they die. The OS works, and the desktops are fast enough so why upgrade? Only my IT staff are using Windows 7 and testing Windows 8 to make sure they are compatible with our business applications and our networks. I would rather have IT iron out any issues before any OS is released to the rest of the company's desktops. I don't expect a major refresh of our desktops for a year or two as I don't see a compelling need for it.

nomad_tech
nomad_tech

My company will be spending the next 2 years migrating from XP to 7 only because End of life support for XP by Microsoft in 2014. We'll see Win8 five years from now.

Lightning Joe
Lightning Joe

So will I "upgrade" from XP? Not on your life. XP now works as it ought to have from the beginning. And with minor upgrades (upgrades to XP, that is) it will continue to excel. It does need better multi-processor support, but combining that support with a hobbling of the UI does nothing to make me want to shell out (YET AGAIN) hundreds of dollars and months of my personal ramping-up time.

JJFitz
JJFitz

My 3 yr. old tablet convertible has had a new lease on life since I installed Windows 8 Consumer Preview. I will definitely upgrade it to Windows 8 Pro when it is released. My 8 yr old home desktop with its slow performance, sketchy DVD-R, and my dying monitor are due for a refresh. I have become very comfortable with the touchscreen monitor on my Win 8 tablet so I am thinking of replacing the desktop and monitor with a touchscreen "all in one" computer. Right now, I have my eye on a Lenovo all in one set to release next month. The 27" screen that can accept 10 finger input and can lie paralell to the desk might add some new functionality.

M Wagner
M Wagner

... because, strictly speaking, it is not. Windows 8 is x86 / x64. Windows RT is ARM. Windows RT is represented by the Metro interface included with Windows 8 but it is not the full Windows 8 kernel. Instead, it is the Windows RT (Run-Time) environment upon which Metro is built. Nor has it been made clear yet whether or not the Windows desktop will be available under Windows RT, and, if so, whether it will run Legacy Windows applications. If it exists in Windows RT, I don't expect it to run legacy Windows Apps. Period. For clarity, consumers get to choose between Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro, in either x86 or x64 flavors - with or without new hardware (including Intel-based tablets). Those buying Windows 8 Pro will be able to add-on Windows Media Center for a small fee. Buyers of ARM-based tablets will be able to get tablets based upon Windows RT. Don't expect legacy Windows applications to run on these tablets. Enterprise customers will get Windows 8 Enterprise, which is a superset of Pro.(x86 / x64) which offers features not needed outside of the enterprise.

eye4bear
eye4bear

I have gotten "used to" Windows 8 on my home PC, but other than an much improved task manager, some minor perceved speed increase, the ribbon in Windows Explorer ( yes I like it ), what on earth would I pay to upgrade for? ( and I DON'T use IE10 at all, hated it since they "improved" it for IE9, I use and LOVE FireFox) Now if MS is smart ( I will wait for you to stop laughing ) they could price the plain Win 8 upgrade at $49.00 to get us upgrade since 99.5% of us do NOT have touch monitors ( nor are they even for sale today as standalone monitors ), thus METRO is wasted space, why should we pay $100+ to upgrade?

rtroy56
rtroy56

The announcement should be subtitled "Add Insult To Injury". What could have been a great new OS is so bad that many people will not want to buy PC's pre-equipped with it, and if ordering a configurable PC will likely ask for Win 7. Win 7 Pro users would be idiots to upgrade if they currently use WMC. I don't know if WMP will still be there or not. In general, anyone comfortable with Win 7 or even Vista will likely hate MUTRO. Every PC I have has Win 7. I'd love to have the underlying improvements in 8, but it's not worth it to be stuck with (unless I install enough work-arounds) a horrific GUI.

cuulblu
cuulblu

Windows 7 is an excellent OS, that is stable and has the bugs worked out. I see no reason to upgrade. From an economical point of view most people are better off to upgrade every other version or even less often. Or wait till they buy a new PC.

bruzmuse
bruzmuse

I believe XP SP3 support will no longer exist after 4/2014. What then? We've slowly been rolling out Win7 with our new devices (we're at 5% -10% in 20 months) but maybe we jump to Windows 8 when it becomes available and is stable instead of staying with the Win7 new device rollout. That's my thinking, why stay with going to Win7 at that point.

Mention88
Mention88

Think Its time For some Ubuntu,very nice layout.

rwbyshe
rwbyshe

Glad to see that Microsoft at least saw the light long enough to offer some diversity to Win 8. HOWEVER, I've never been an advocate of jumping on a new Windows OS for at least 1 year after the initial release. Windows track record for patches and fixes in the first year or so speak for themselves and most companies simply don't need the new version of Windows within the first year and that IT budget could easily be saved by just avoiding updating to it for 12 to 18 months. So my fav thing to do with a release of a new version of Windows is to sit back and just watch the scrambling until they get the bugs, updates, and security fixes in place. That's my humble opinion!

jdm12
jdm12

Isn't this the same business model used by the American auto industry in the 1980s? How is this OS going to make my life better? What will it allow me to do now that I cannot already do? How will it improve what I already do? So far, all I've learned about Win8 is that the UI will take getting used to, that the start button is missing, and that Microsoft hopes it will prevent some people from slipping off to iOS land.

kctobyjoe
kctobyjoe

My i7 based 64 bit 7 Pro is FINE thank you; no touch screens for me thank you (They) Keep making all these IDIOT products for people either too STUPID to figure things out for themselves or too lazy; smart phones for dopes taken to a new level!!!

stevethehawk
stevethehawk

In my decades of using computers, I've never upgraded our PC's to a newer version of Windows. The added features/functionality have not been compelling enough to warrant the expense, the time involved and the inevitable glitches. We get a new OS when we get new computers. This also allows us to avoid version 1. I have always preferred waiting for a service pack or two to allow the dust to settle before jumping on board.

sarai1313
sarai1313

is it two,three,or four .i have it all from you guys in just the last week .it is as bad as it is the apple ipad hd ,no it the ipad 3,no waite it is the ipad .if you dont know what you are talking about dont talk at all .

Mike Lonewolf
Mike Lonewolf

I have to think about this one. This might be the FIRST ever MS Operating System that I will run in CP (Consumer Preview) till it runs out in 03/2013 and then make a decision as to doing a upgrade to full retail version. As it stands right now, there is nothing really new that I like in Windows 8. Everyone is Oooos & aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhs about Metro, but it just doesn't ring my bell at all. Even at the other message board I am on, it has pretty much had gotten silent, and I see a lot of the people have moved back to Windows 7. Windows 8 upgrade will be a think about for me.

bcscouse
bcscouse

Although my first reaction to Win8 was negative, I have still stuck with it on my laptop to give it a fair chance to convince me that I was being a little too disappointed with the software. Over the llast few months, I have managed to live with the Metro GUI but still would not be sad if it was completely left off the PC versions and also the missing start button which a lot of people think was a bad idea by Microsoft and I know some people have added it back by themselves through various private upgrades. I too have tweaked the laptop where Metro is only there for a few seonds on startup and the start button lives again on the desktop but looking at it, it seems I have moved closer to my current Windows 7 apart from IE10 which will be added to Win7 at some point on the rest of my machines. It leaves me with the big question, why upgrade? I can understand Microsofts intention is to compete with Apple and Android in the tablet market which is where they have concentrated the main aspects of Win8 but the addition of trying to combine desktops and laptops has made the entire concept a bit hit and miss. Like I have said in previous posts, they should have started the OS as purley a mobile system and gradualy integrated into the desktop so people could accept the changes but a lot of the workers and friends I know have told me that this system will not be greeted with a great deal of enthusiasm if their company goes for the (upgrade?) no matter what version it is. I am still convinced Win8 will be even less popular than Vista.

inblues
inblues

Curious, will all the old windows application developed using visual studio 2007 will be supported in windows 8?

pethers
pethers

I'm not motivated to upgrade at all - there are some 'nice to have' features in Win 8 but not enough to convince me to move. I think I'll be getting it with a new PC/Device when I decide to buy.

Gisabun
Gisabun

Would you believe there are actually some who are complaining that thre is still too many editions? How hard is this: Win 8 for ARM. Win 8 "home" for mostly home users, Win 8 Pro for those who need the few extras [bit locker, domain support, etc.] and Win 8 Enterprise for large companies. How simple is that? No Ultimate. No Starter [at this time].

ITOdeed
ITOdeed

I see no reason to upgrade.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

It's strange, but even Microsoft tends to treat Vista as a non-existent operating system. I would think you can upgrade from Vista since it is so similar to Windows 7. The big hop in code is from XP.

M Wagner
M Wagner

Windows 7 offers so much more - in performance, in security, in memory management. Don't want Windows 8? Don't buy it.

JJFitz
JJFitz

I am sure that there are others.

GSG
GSG

Yes they are for sale as stand alone. We have some from HP that we use in check in areas. They're not even that expensive.

Mike Lonewolf
Mike Lonewolf

rtroy56 said [quote]"Add Insult To Injury". What could have been a great new OS is so bad that many people will not want to buy PC's pre-equipped with it. [/quote] Then explain why stores like Wal-Mart's, CompUSA, Fry's, etc., have a huge backlog of Windows 8 PC pre-orders? hmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Also check with Dell, Gateway, HP, etc. Microsoft's own direct to consumers has as well filled up with orders for Windows 8, and from current estimates the number of pre-orders looks like it will surpass Windows 95's.

M Wagner
M Wagner

How long will Microsoft sell Windows 7 after Windows 8 goes on sale? That really won't matter though because , other than moving the Start Menu to the Metro screen, the Windows 8 desktop performs just like Windows 7. I WOULD NOT put off a migration away from Windows XP but I would not be concerned about moving to Windows 8 from Windows 7. There is simply no compelling reason to do so.

Mike Lonewolf
Mike Lonewolf

Let's get a few things right! First off, Windows 8 requires less Ram than Windows XP did, and on top of that it has a self healing application that will bring it back to it's own self. Meaning no more format a screwed up system, formatting, partitioning, re-installing the O/S and ALL the apps. Also it has a self shutdown when it sees danger, so that you don't get hit with a drive-by. Actually, it would be better to see all the offerings at a Windows 8 forum like http://www.eightforums.com. You also have to remember that Windows 7 according to Microsoft themselves is only HOW they wanted Windows Vista to turn out.

M Wagner
M Wagner

Most people don't buy an operating system - they buy a computer. They use it without much regard to care and feeding. When it breaks (or otherwise seems to them like it needs to be replaced(, they replace it with whatever operating system comes with the new computer.

M Wagner
M Wagner

... Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro. One Enterprise edition (not available to consumers) One ARM tablet version (Windows RT is not Windows 8)

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

I don't know what you've been looking at, but there are 4 versions - but only 3 that most of us will have to deal with.

M Wagner
M Wagner

... any reason to move to Windows 8 but it DOES offer the consumer who is in the market for a new device another choice. They can have "the best of all possible worlds" with a Windows 8 netbook / notebook / tablet, or they can jump to a Windows RT tablet and know it will be compatible with their Windows 7 desktop / laptop at home or at work.

M Wagner
M Wagner

... it will run under Windows 8. Don't expect legacy applications to run under Windows RT and don't expect legacy Windows XP applications to run anywhere!

Realvdude
Realvdude

Yes for the x86 based Windows 8 and no on Windows 8 RT. Read another TR article http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/programming-and-development/visual-studio-11-a-refined-and-disappointing-experience/5237 last paragraph above "Disappointments" which supports that VS apps will not run. Also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_8 The section titled Software compatibility. As an example, it is likely why the "touch optimized" version of Office is being included in RT. It is likely that MS had to a lot of work to get it ready for the RunTime. I also suspect that version of Office won't be as feature rich as the stand alone product. Since manufacturers choosing RT for their ARM products are essentially locking their customers into the OS, it is a captured market for Office, much like phone versions of Windows. I'm sure there will numerous resources to aid in moving applications to Metro/RT, and probably even a couple of software products attempting to automate the process.

Mike Lonewolf
Mike Lonewolf

Why mention Enterprise? It is REALLY not a edition so to say, all it is, is it gives multiple installs with one COA.(CD-Key) It will be no different than Windows 8 Professional.

nwallette
nwallette

I just don't see the sense in it. We got along fine all these years with "home" and "pro". But even that has been artificially divided in the past. People with high-end custom-built computers, with multiple processors and/or video cards, would have to chose Pro just to be able to make use of them. MS also shot themselves in the foot by not allowing domain logins on Home. Their Windows Home Server product could have used that functionality to synchronize logins and push preferences (policies) to all PCs. Finally, I worked in a small, privately-owned computer store when XP was released. I can't count how many times I got asked, "so... which one should I get? What's the difference?" The worst part being -- we didn't know. There was scant info on the actual difference between the two at first. We got the marketing copy -- "Pro has additional features useful to power users, or those in a business" -- but as far as what those additional features were... no one seemed to know. Many of us (at the store) were tech enthusiasts and really wanted to understand. It took a lot of digging to get some concrete answers. So back to the point: I can imagine there are plenty of personal users that would love to have encryption, but don't need domain logins. If there *has* to be a pricing structure, sell it as a license upgrade after installation. Or a Plus pack. Again, from the previous computer store experience, most retailers would prefer fewer part numbers to stock. EDIT: OK, I'm kind of harping on bygones here. This time around it really isn't too bad. I would have liked it if Home, Pro, and Enterprise were condensed into Home / Pro, but that's not such a big deal since end users will never see Enterprise. The ARM version isn't really a factor here either -- being the equivalent to Windows CE or XP Embedded or whatever. It is a step in the right direction.

M Wagner
M Wagner

... of Hell freezes over (which ever comes first). Microsoft is not twisting anyone's arm. If they don't want to pay Microsoft's prices, they can install Linux. Or buy Apple hardware.

M Wagner
M Wagner

Where "n" is Windows 8 and "n-2" is Vista. They HAD TO do so for XP to 7 because Vista adoption was so poor. They do not have to for Vista - though they may choose to as we get closer to RTM. As for the upgrade path referred to above, you should never upgrade in place anyway. Best practices tell us you should always perform a clean install. Windows 8 is not really intended to be an upgrade form Windows 7 though. Instead, Windows 8 is a transitional OS for moving seamlessly between traditional desktops and notebooks and tablets. The enterprise will not be quick to upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8 because their is no reason to - except to the extent that enterprise management might otherwise buy iPads instead of Windows 8 tablets. With Windows 8, Microsoft is targeting consumers who might otherwise buy iPads for the portability of tablets but still want Windows compatibility. (Microsoft cannot afford to give-up Windows notebook buyers to Apple's iPad.)

Gisabun
Gisabun

I've never seen a supported OS that you couldn't upgrade. I'm sure like when Win 7 came up, you'll have to start from scratch [or equivalent] with Win XP to Win 8. Like the wankers who complained that you couldn't do a direct upgrade from Win XP to Win 7 you'll get the same wankers who complain you can't upgrade from Win XP to Win 8. Vista and Win 7 will be treated probably since the same since they use the same core, similar install technologies and even drivers [hardware with no Win 8 drivers could use Win 7 or Vista drivers in most cases].

xangpow
xangpow

If you ask me the whole "touch screen" thing could be called a "failed experiment" I remember someone saying that touch screens will not work in the business world because of the fact that they are not ergonomic. A funny mental image was when someone said that workers would look like jedi's waving thier hands across thier monitors. And if that is the "big selling point" for 8, I dont think people will see a need to change OS's. Me, I am happy with 7. As of right now I will not be got to 8. NOW, once it comes out and I see how others are using it and see all the "cool" features, THEN i might go to 8. But for now I will wait and see.

M Wagner
M Wagner

... and for them, the incremental price of going from Win 8 to Win 8 Pro should be well worth it. Why charge 95% of consumers for something they don't need?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

You're mistaken. They didn't support upgrading XP to 7, and it isn't possible without upgrading XP to Vista first. I agree that a clean install is usually the best option, but sometimes there are circumstances that require upgrading instead.

nwallette
nwallette

I'm not offended by the lack of upgrade path. I don't think those still using XP are exactly the target market anyway.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

If you have to start from scratch, it isn't an 'upgrade'. 'Upgrade' means the OS is brought up to a new version, but the existing applications, user profiles, data, drivers, settings, etc are unaffected. That isn't possible from XP to 7; apps have to be reinstalled, data on the boot drive has to be moved off and then back, additional tools have to be used to migrate user settings and profiles, drivers have to be reinstalled, etc.

xangpow
xangpow

Dont say that too loud or the Apple people might not buy the next Iphone, Ipad, Itoiletpaper, or anything else Apple coems out with. lol

M Wagner
M Wagner

??? because so many third-party XP programs took shortcuts around Windows APIs that stuff broke. XP to 7 would encounter exactly the same problems with third-party code that is not Vista compatible. Windows 7 media will install on any sufficiently powerful hardware (even bare metal) without a key. Microsoft designed this into the media to users could test-run Windows 7 for up to 30 days without further intervention. This allows you to perform a clean install of Windows 7 on an XP machine.

M Wagner
M Wagner

... I completely agree. If you don't perform a "clean install" every time you move to a new OS, you introduce unknown variables and potential incompatibilities. This is especially true if you are dependent upon a lot of third-party applications which may not conform to Microsoft programming standards.