With the anticipated release of Windows 8 just months away at this point, it is about the right time to be getting some more substantial information about the launch plans. Microsoft doesn’t disappoint, even if what we’re given is somewhat less than impressive. The big talk lately has been about the fact that MS announced the version breakdown for Windows 8.
There will be three available options for the new OS. Customers will be able to choose between Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro on their Intel based devices, while Windows RT will handle the ARM side of things. Naturally plain old Windows 8 will be the basic option while Windows 8 Pro offers the more extensive capabilities and configuration options.
At first glance this seems like a fairly standard breakdown. If anything, it can’t help but come as a relief after the Windows 7 launch presented customers with six barely distinct editions, not to mention the variety of upgrade pack options and derivatives that came along later. What this does that might have interesting effects on consumer response, however, is visibly split the product line.
There was always going to be a distinct difference between what is now being called Windows RT and the rest of the options. Different architecture and performance options mean different approaches. Now the naming scheme seems to indicate discrete operating systems. Windows RT does not necessarily imply a part of the Windows 8 family at first glance, after all. This could be a risky move considering the already well documented backlash against the Metro UI, though it may of course also provide some buffer against total failure of the upgrade if Windows RT tablets bomb.
Windows RT will naturally be pre-installed on those devices that use it. Customers will not be pulling copies off the shelves. That leaves us with Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro. We’ll leave out the Enterprise version since it should amount to essentially Windows 8 Pro with bulk licensing. This means upgrade options should be relatively painless. Anybody running Windows 7 will have the option to take advantage of in-place upgrade paths already present so long as they want Windows 8 Pro. In general this will be possible when upgrading to basic Windows 8, but anybody currently on Windows 7 Ultimate or Professional who wants the basic option will have to go with a clean install.
We don’t have much detail just yet on what exactly the differences will be between each of these options, but there should be regular updates on the Windows 8 situation moving forward. I’ll try to keep things up to date here, so check back for anything major that Microsoft announces or lets slip.