From the horse’s mouth
With all of the talk about WIndows 8 coming up this year, there has been a burning question on the variants this operating system will be available in.
The product variants
Firstly, there will be the Windows RT variant which will be delivered with computer equipment based on the ARM microarchitecture. This will have nearly all of the features available for Windows 8 but will have certain limitations to cope with this microarchitecture and what it stands for.
At the moment, users can install Windows 8 “Metro” apps that are compiled and available for the ARM microarchitecture but wouldn’t be able to load and run the typical Windows desktop applications and games compiled for the classic 32-bit / 64-bit x86 microarchitecture. This version will also have an ARM variant of the essential Microsoft Office apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint & OneNote) onboard.
There will be limited power functionalities with a “Connected Standby” mode as well as the full operational mode, so these devices can keep themselves updated but with the display off and using very little power.
This version is what most home users will head towards and will have most of the features like the Metro touch user-interface, multi-monitor support, ability for users to switch languages amongst other things. It will also have the Windows Media Center functionality for multimedia consumption including TV viewing.
Windows 7 Starter and Home Premium users can upgrade their existing computers to this package of Windows 8.
Windows 8 Pro
This version is pitched at business users and have all of Windows 8’s features except for the Media Center functionality. Instead, it will have the inherent support for volume and file encryption, virtualisation, remote-desktop server functionality and business-class manageability. Of course it will also be pitched at technically-competent home users and they will need to purchase a low-cost “Windows Media Pack” which will have the Windows Media Center functionality if they want this functionality.
Personally, I would also like to see the availability of a “Pro-Plus” package with Windows 8 Pro and the Media Pack targeted at enthusiasts, IT professionals and others who use their computer for work and personal applications.
What I see is that Microsoft has taken the right step with reducing the number of packages available for Windows 8 so they don’t feel as though they have missed out on certain features that are essential for their work and personal computing needs.
Here, I would find that Windows 8 would suit most users while the Pro variant would suit those users with highly-confidential data, a need to link with established business computing environments or want to get more out of their computing environemnt.