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New Pro version merges two premium editions of Windows 7, RT version will be dedicated to ARM support

Windows XP launched in 2001 with two primary editions -- Home and Professional.  Later Media Center and a handful of regional-targeted versions would be tacked on.  In 2006 Windows Vista -- an operating system that fairly or unfairly would come to be quite loathed and derided -- launched with a dizzying six editions including Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate.  Windows 7 trimmed much bloat from Vista when it launched in 2009, but stuck with the packed six-edition lineup (which included both 32-bit and 64-bit variants, to boot).

Windows 8 has tall boots to fill as the follow-up to Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) Windows 7 -- the world's fastest selling operating system in history.  Launching this fall, the operating system changes much.  Among the most recent changes to be announced is a trimming of the operating system SKUs.

Microsoft late Monday announced that Windows 8 would come in only three versions -- Windows 8 (self-titled), Windows Professional, and Windows RT.  In many ways the latter two echo the simplistic marketing of Windows XP.

The final edition -- Windows RT -- is the special new version of Windows that will be compatible with ARM processors for the first time.  ARM Holdings plc's (LON:ARM) licensed designs have dominated the smartphone and tablet space -- now they aim to do the same in the PC space, challenging veteran x86 manufacturer Intel Corp. (INTC).

Windows RT is missing a couple of features found in the x86 editions -- notably Windows Media Player and Storage Spaces.  But it comes with Microsoft's ubiquitous Office suite for free -- something the self-titled basic and Professional editions can't boast.  It also comes with specialized device encryption.

Microsoft Office
Window 8 RT -- the ARM variant -- comes with a free edition of Office, a nice perk.
[Image Source: Microsoft]

Windows 8 Professional packs some different perks -- many of which were introduced in Windows 7, such as HyperV virtualization, virtual hard drive (VHD) boot, remote desktop, and Bitlocker encryption.

The veteran operating system maker stopped shy of forcing x86 customers to have a 64-bit central processing unit to upgrade.  When exactly 64-bit will become the mandatory standard has been a topic of much speculation over the years.  

The company plugs its reduced lineup as being its most diverse operating system yet, stating, "Windows 8 has the flexibility you need - whether you’re on an x86/64 or a WOA PC. You can use a touch screen or a keyboard and mouse – and switch anytime. It’s beautiful, fast, and fluid design is perfect for a wide range of hardware. And you’ll love browsing through the Windows Store and downloading all the apps you want. And those apps can work together too so you can share photos, maps, contacts, links and whatever else you want faster and easier. All editions of Windows 8 offer a no-compromise experience."

Windows 8 looks to be a relatively bold rewrite of the traditional Windows OS.  It moves closer to a smartphone-esque software model, switching to a primarily online sales distribution model and streamlined upgrade process for the initial installation.  Microsoft is also pushing its new Windows Store for apps, hoping to lure developers with an industry-best 20-80 Microsoft-developer split for high-grossing apps.  Microsoft is also mandating that all new Windows 8 PCs have 5-finger touch and spreading its new Metro UI across the operating system.

But Microsoft is not turning its back on its respected tradition -- it's also shoring up the key components of Windows.  Windows 8 has already been shown to beat Windows 7 in performance benchmarks.  It features better multi-monitor support, less painful Windows Update processfaster bootsdecreased OS resource consumptionimproved file transfers (complete with an improved Windows Explorer), and a refined Task Manager.

While the overhaul of the base and mobile-trending feature set are key storylines, arguably the biggest story is the arrival of WOA -- Windows on ARM.  Windows 8 RT should be prominently featured in numerous tablets.  Sentiments are mixed on these devices -- some bemoan the lack of legacy software support (given the new architecture) -- others point out that hasn't been a hindrance to mobile operating systems.

Source: Windows Team



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Wait, what?
By xenol on 4/17/2012 11:21:08 AM , Rating: 4
"...some bemoan the lack of legacy software support"

I just sort of faceplamed at this. If you want to run your legacy software on the go, buy a x86 laptop. They're not designed with a touch screen only interface anyway and those that want it would probably complain how crappy it works on a tablet.




RE: Wait, what?
By JasonMick (blog) on 4/17/2012 11:24:28 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I just sort of faceplamed at this. If you want to run your legacy software on the go, buy a x86 laptop. They're not designed with a touch screen only interface anyway and those that want it would probably complain how crappy it works on a tablet.
Personally, I agree, absolutely.

First as you allude, x86 PCs aren't going away. They just have some new company.

Second, most software can and will be recompiled, if it's really that commonly used and vital. I've long opined that Windows 8 tablets will be a market success.

That said, I feel the need to mention that gripe in my articles, because invariably every single ARM-related Windows 8 piece has featured numerous readers bi.. *ahem* complaining about this supposed legacy software crisis.

To me its much ado over nothing, but if the fear drives away some buyers, it becomes a problem for Microsoft -- valid or not.


RE: Wait, what?
By dagamer34 on 4/17/2012 11:41:21 AM , Rating: 2
No recompiling or emulation of x86 on ARM. If you want to make software for an ARM tablet, it will be using WinRT for the Metro interface and go through the Windows Store. Period.

The ONLY exception is that businesses will be able to sideload apps but they still have to be rewritten for WinRT and Metro. No desktop apps other than Office. On ARM tablets, they eventually want to get rid of the desktop.


RE: Wait, what?
By JasonMick (blog) on 4/17/2012 11:48:21 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
No recompiling or emulation of x86 on ARM. If you want to make software for an ARM tablet, it will be using WinRT for the Metro interface and go through the Windows Store. Period.
So? Slap a metro icon on an recompile... not exactly rocket science. Microsoft hasn't mandated Windows 7 apps be Silverlight/XAML/C# coated, to my knowledge.

Plus I haven't heard anything about Microsoft banning third party apps stores. The Metro UI guidelines only apply to Windows Store.

quote:
The ONLY exception is that businesses will be able to sideload apps but they still have to be rewritten for WinRT and Metro. No desktop apps other than Office. On ARM tablets, they eventually want to get rid of the desktop.
From what I understand businesses will be able to sideload non-metro apps, at least on ARM laptops. I haven't seen anything definitive from MSFT saying otherwise -- correct me if I'm wrong.

I would highly doubt Microsoft would try to block, say, Pfizer or the DOD from sideloading non-Metro apps onto Windows 8 tablets.

I think you're just inventing a problem that most users don't care about and most businesses won't have to deal with.

There's always a cost of progress -- but I hardly see how having more options (ARM) is a catastrophe. Buy an x86 tablet if you don't like it!


RE: Wait, what?
By aGreenAgent on 4/17/2012 12:47:14 PM , Rating: 2
Well I think the point is that there is no (non-Metro) ARM SDK, thus you can't compile a Windows app for ARM. It's not how you get it on the system, it's that you just can't make it.


RE: Wait, what?
By dagamer34 on 4/17/2012 11:40:55 AM , Rating: 2
No recompiling or emulation of x86 on ARM. If you want to make software for an ARM tablet, it will be using WinRT for the Metro interface and go through the Windows Store. Period.

The ONLY exception is that businesses will be able to sideload apps but they still have to be rewritten for WinRT and Metro. No desktop apps other than Office. On ARM tablets, they eventually want to get rid of the desktop.


Windows 8: Meet the alternatives
By jnemesh on 4/17/12, Rating: 0
RE: Windows 8: Meet the alternatives
By JasonMick (blog) on 4/17/2012 11:27:48 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Windows 7, Fedora, Ubuntu, etc.! I will go back to stone tablets before I load "Metro" on my PC!
Personally I will switch to FreeBSD before I'm forced to used this new-fangled Windows thing. DOS 6 for life!


RE: Windows 8: Meet the alternatives
By poi2 on 4/17/2012 12:44:44 PM , Rating: 2
/sarcasm ?


RE: Windows 8: Meet the alternatives
By Spuke on 4/17/2012 12:59:50 PM , Rating: 4
I find it fascinating how some ALWAYS complain when something new is introduced without fail. It's as if these people never think something is going to change and are continuously surprised by it. Seriously, this is very interesting behavior.


By Graviton on 4/17/2012 9:07:28 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
I find it fascinating how some ALWAYS applaud when something new is introduced without fail. It's as if these people never think something could change for the worse and are continuously oblivious to it. Seriously, this is very interesting behavior.


Fixed it for you :)


By Bubbacub on 4/17/2012 4:57:08 PM , Rating: 2
after many years of trying and hating linux on an annual basis i have now made the switch to ubuntu - i don't think im going back anytime soon.

TBH - its like win7 but without any bloatware/malware and slightly reduced battery life.

missing word and endnote (bibus and openoffice arn't quite as good)

have a nice virtual machine to play civ3 - i dont need anything more!


I'm excited, but nervous for MS
By tayb on 4/17/2012 11:00:13 AM , Rating: 1
I am pretty stoked for this release. I've been rocking an iPad (original) for a while and I haven't seen anything truly worthy of an upgrade. An 11" or 13" Windows 8 tablet with a base similar to the Asus Transformer sounds extremely appealing.

On the other hand, I spend my days working using Windows and the "overhaul" of the start menu is unacceptable to me. The vast majority of the improvement sound great but I do NOT want anything to do with Metro while I am trying to work. I don't want to see it, at all, unless I am on a tablet in "tablet mode." If they force Metro on me I will not buy Windows 8. At all.




By JasonMick (blog) on 4/17/2012 11:31:19 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
On the other hand, I spend my days working using Windows and the "overhaul" of the start menu is unacceptable to me. The vast majority of the improvement sound great but I do NOT want anything to do with Metro while I am trying to work. I don't want to see it, at all, unless I am on a tablet in "tablet mode." If they force Metro on me I will not buy Windows 8. At all.
I'm sure Microsoft will deliver something that's ultimately as usable or more usable than the base Windows 7 interface.

Remember, that it made 2,000 changes to Win7 based on user feedback -- and that was just a prelude to the massive testing of Windows 8 that's going on.

Microsoft has to add certain functionality in order to stay competitive and expand into new markets, but I doubt it will neglect its core business.

Windows 8 already is beating Windows 7 in benchmarks, and the Windows Explorer and task manager look much nicer. I'd wager that the company will patch up any rough edges before launch time -- it has over half a year to do so, after all.


RE: I'm excited, but nervous for MS
By corduroygt on 4/17/2012 11:30:49 AM , Rating: 2
Have you ever tried to hold a 13" tablet? At that size, you might as well get a laptop because they're huge. The iPad size or something a little bit smaller is just about perfect for a tablet.


RE: I'm excited, but nervous for MS
By acer905 on 4/17/2012 12:17:35 PM , Rating: 2
Step 1) Extend non dominant arm outward, and bend the elbow.

Step 2) Using dominant hand, place the tablet on the extended forearm. Grip the tablet from the edge using the non dominant hand.

Step 3) Navigate the tablet using the dominant hand.

Might not work for everyone, but people already have a tendency to hold notebooks that way when on the move, therefore a lightweight tablet would fit the exact same way.


RE: I'm excited, but nervous for MS
By tayb on 4/17/2012 1:11:10 PM , Rating: 2
I had a 12.1" Fujitsu T4220 convertible notebook when I was in college and loved it. I'm not going to hold the thing and walk around using it but I will use it to take hand-written notes (diagrams) with it laying on a flat surface. When I want to use it as a laptop plug that thing into the base, and voila, now I have just a regular laptop.

That's ideal to me. My iPad is great but it's much too small to actually work on. Angry Birds? Sure.


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