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Windows 8 different editions explained

After three years in development, Windows 8 has finally been unleashed in all its glory – and with a slimmed down number of different editions.

Microsoft has said it has worked to make it easier for customers to know which edition will work best for them.

Warwick Grey, Microsoft partner account manager, distribution says the standard 'Windows 8' offering will be for consumers primarily.

Windows 8 Pro will be available for businesses that need network connectivity primarily, he adds.

Earlier this year, Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc blogged that Windows 8 Pro ‘is designed to help tech enthusiasts and business/technical professional obtain a broader set of Windows 8 technologies’. The Pro version includes features over and above that found in Windows 8, including encryption, virtualisation, PC management and domain connectivity.

Also available will be OEM versions of both the standard and and Pro editions, for installation on new PCs only, but no longer needing to be sold with a new PC. Grey says these 'will suit enthusiasts who want to tinker and build a PC as well as local system builders'.

One local distributor says that in turn, both the OEM standard and Pro editions are available in either 32-bit and 64-bit versions. With an upgrade version only available to tier one retailers.

A version specifically for customers with Software Assurance agreements, Windows 8 Enterprise, will also be available. Grey says it adds value features including home use rights for staff and Windows to Go. Earlier, LeBlanc said it would include all of the Windows 8 Pro features, plus extras to enable PC management and deployment, advanced security, virtualisation, new mobility scenarios and so on.

Last up is Windows RT, the newest member of the Windows family, running on ARM-based systems. Windows RT will only be available with the device, and can't be purchased separately, Grey notes.

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