Over the years, Microsoft has developed a knack for producing more versions of Windows than the standard human mind can care to cope with — fortunately, that trend ends today with the announcement of the versions available for its upcoming Windows 8 release.

The previous Home editions have been condensed to Windows 8, and Ultimate and Professional editions move to Windows 8 Pro. Windows 7 Starter has been put out to pasture.

The build, previously known as Windows on ARM (WOA), has been renamed Windows RT — not to be confused with WinRT, the new toolkit to build Metro applications. But that confusion is going to happen; I’m already double-thinking plans to build in WinRT for Windows RT. Yikes!

Windows RT will come bundled with Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote) and will offer device encryption, but it misses out on Windows Media Player and Storage Spaces. Windows RT will only be available as a pre-installed option on ARM-based computers and tablets.

Windows 8 Pro will exclusively offer BitLocker, boot from VHD, Hyper-V, domain support, group policy, and remote desktop host support. Windows Media Center will be available for Windows 8 Pro as an add-on, at a price that Microsoft claims will be “economical”.

Windows 8 Enterprise will be sold to companies with Software Assurance agreements, and includes all the features of Windows 8 Pro, as well as PC management and deployment, advanced security, and virtualisation.

Microsoft recommends Windows 8 Pro to enthusiasts and business users.

The Redmond giant says it will release pricing information in the coming months.