The list of Windows 8 software editions expected to be making their way to consumers by the end of the year was announced yesterday by Microsoft on the Windows Blog.
Three versions of Windows 8 are available. For PCs and tablets powered by x86 processors, there are two versions. Windows 8 will offer a complete experience and as with previous iterations of the OS, a professional version, Windows 8 Pro, will also be on offer with greater control over security and encryption.
The third version Windows RT has been designed for devices with ARM processors; optimisation for touch screen input and other tweaks such as enhanced power management making it ideal for tablets users. Windows RT apparently stands for Runtime.
Windows RT will offer a similar experience as that found on the other two versions of the OS, save for some key differences:
- The Microsoft Office suite of programs will come installed with the OS, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote
- Device encryption (not dissimilar from Windows Phone's pin or password locks) will feature
- x86/64 desktop software will not be able to run on Windows RT devices, however the Windows 8 Store will offer compatible applications for users on any version of the OS
- A number of services found on Windows 8 Pro will not feature on Windows RT including Remote Desktop hosting and some of the aforementioned security services.
Information on Microsoft's next major OS release has steadily appeared over the past months, with one of the most recent announcements showcasing its new minimalist logo.
The inclusion of a dedicated ARM-friendly version of Windows 8 also hints that Microsoft might be intending to launch a Windows 8 tablet under it's own branding, in an attempt to offer a more complete computing experience for mobile users - something that was rumoured last year. Although so far we only aware of rumoured offerings from Samsung and Nokia.
Microsoft has promised an increase in the frequency of announcements in the coming months, answering more questions potential users might have and releasing pricing information ahead of the expected launch date, which will be sometime in October later this year.