MICROSOFT WINDOWS 8 VERSIONS EXPLAINED
The key pointers you need to know before you buy!
* Microsoft never makes picking the “right” version of Windows particularly easy. Last time around, the company released seven different versions of Windows 7, leaving confused consumers to consult charts, tables and the occasional Ouija board just to figure out which one was right for them. Someone in Redmond must have been listening, because Microsoft offers only four version of Windows 8 – and the differences between them are significantly clearer. Here’s an overview of the different versions, pricing and what each one offers.
The vanilla version of Windows 8 will probably make the best choice for 90 percent of consumers, those who just need the basic tools to connect to the Internet, run apps and manage media. Though it represents the “bare bones” package, Windows 8 still offers a number of features that used to come only with premium version of Windows 7. For instance, multiple-language support is standard, so you can seamlessly shift between languages using the Multilingual User Interface, no upgrade needed.
WINDOWS 8 PRO
For users who need their operating system to do a little more heavy lifting, Microsoft offers Windows 8 Pro. Many of the additional features here will go unnoticed by casual users, but prove indispensable for business users. For instance, Windows 8 Pro can encrypt the entire operating system for security, and protect your files using BitLocker. It can boot from a virtual hard drive (VHD), join work domains for advanced file sharing in large groups and supports remote desktop so that someone (like your IT guy) can hop on your computer remotely to fix problems. The only feature that might lure more casual users over to Pro is Windows Media Center, which makes using Windows on your TV much easier.
WINDOWS 8 ENTERPRISE
This is the version of Windows 8 only large corporations and organizations will buy. As you might expect, it includes all the features of Windows 8 Pro, plus some even more obscure features tailored to the challenges of running Windows 8 across an entire workforce. For instance, AppLocker lets administrators restrict what users can install think keeping BitTorrent and Skyrim off the PCs in a high school computer lab. Unlike Pro, Windows Media Center won’t be an option here, so the single thread that made Pro more attractive to casual users is gone. However, tinkers and geeks may be attracted to Windows To Go, which lets you run a fully-functional version of Windows 8 off a thumb drive.
The most radically different version of Windows 8 doesn’t even get an “8” in its name, a good indicator of just how different it is. Bear with us on the technical explanation: While every other version of Windows runs on x86 architecture – the hardware you have in your desktop or laptop – Windows RT runs on ARM architecture – the type of hardware you would find in a smartphone or tablet. Think of it more like a competitor to Google Android or Apple iOS than a true “desktop” operating system. While it looks and acts much like other versions of Windows 8, the technical underpinnings are very different. That means Windows RT can’t run any apps developed for previous versions of Windows, and there is no desktop screen, just Modern UI. As a trade-off Windows RT has much lower power requirements, so devices made for it can be lighter, less expensive and offer longer battery life.