Windows 8 is now available and when you go to Windows8 Downloads on MSDN you will see many versions and start wondering what version/edition should I acquire.
Among the list you will find, the following (each in x86 and x64 editions) and each in 2 language versions
UK English version and US English version
- Windows 8 (multiple editions) “contains both Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro”
- Windows 8 N – Volume license without media components
- Windows 8 Enterprise
- Windows 8 Enterprise N – Volume license without media components
- Windows 8 Pro
- Windows 8 Pro N – Volume license without media components
You might be wondering about the “N” . The features in the N are the same as their equivalent full versions, but do not include Windows Media Player or other Windows Media-related technologies, such as Windows Media Center and Windows DVD Maker.
If yo look under “Special-purpose editions” in the Windows 7 Wiki. you will find info about the N and KN editions, which adds to what i mentioned above: “The cost of the N Editions are the same as the full versions, as the Media Feature Pack for Windows 7 N or Windows 7 KN can be downloaded without charge from Microsoft.”
Now back to the difference between the main editions, Windows 8 has four editions, each with varying feature sets.
Windows 8: is the basic edition of Windows for the IA-32 and x64 architectures. This edition contains features aimed at the home market segment and provides all of the basic new Windows 8 features including the Start screen with semantic zoom, live tiles, Windows Store, Internet Explorer 10, connected standby, Microsoft account integration, the Windows desktop and more.
Windows 8 Pro: is comparable to Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate and is targeted towards enthusiasts and business users; it includes all the features of Windows 8. Additional features include the ability to receive Remote Desktop connections, the ability to participate in a Windows Server domain, Encrypting File System, Hyper-V, and Virtual Hard Disk Booting, Group Policy as well as BitLocker. Windows Media Center functionality will be available only for Windows 8 Pro as a separate software package.
Windows 8 Enterprise: provides all the features in Windows 8 Pro (except the ability to install the Windows Media Center add-on)
Windows RT: will only be available pre-installed on ARM-based devices such as tablet PCs. It will include touch-optimized desktop versions of the basic set of Office 2013 applications to users—Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, and support device encryption capabilities. Several business-focused features such as Group Policy and domain support are not included.
Furthermore, Unlike Windows Vista and Windows 7, there are no Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, or Ultimate editions.
You can view more comparison info on this Comparison chart available on wikipedia.