Microsoft have announced the editions of Windows 8 that will be available:
- Windows 8
- Windows 8 Pro
- Windows 8 Enterprise
- Windows RT
Let’s take a look at each edition and what you get.
This is the new incarnation of “Home Premium” as it cannot join a domain or be managed via group policy. New/updated features include:
- Updated Windows Explorer
- Updated Task Manager
- Better multi-monitor support
- Ability to switch languages on the fly (previously ENt/Ultimate edt only!)
Windows 8 Pro
This is, as the name suggests, the new “Professional” offering of Windows and it brings with it a few new things:
- Boot from VHD
- Client Hyper – V
- Bit Locker & Bitlocker to Go
Now the first 2 are pretty cool and will come in very handy but in my opinion, that 3rd one is the biggie:
Hard Drive and USB encryption built in as part of the OS!
Previously Bitlocker was available only as an Enterprise feature which required SA to be purchased on top of the Windows 7 Pro SKU, and for the last almost 3 years we’ve had customers asking:
“Why isn’t this in the Pro version?”
so it’s great that it now is
This has previously been known as “Windows on ARM” or “WOA” and is exclusively for devices powered by ARM processors. These devices will typically be thinner, lighter and have better battery life than regular devices so it’s aimed very much at the tablet market.
One of the interesting features is that Windows RT is listed as including Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote). No more solid information has been given on this, leading to some speculation. Over on LinkedIn, Paul DeGroot has said:
I imagine it will be something akin to what is built into Windows Phone, certainly not equivalent to the full desktop version but more than capable of handling what users need to do when they’re out and about – perfect for tablets once again and a great USP against Apple & Android devices.
One of the big differences with Windows RT is that X86/X64 software and desktop software cannot be installed on it, again keeping it focused on the tablet market…just like the iPad iOS and responding to people’s claims of Windows being too “bloated” to run on a tablet.
There is also a lot of noise being made about the name “Windows RT” and how it’s rubbish and no-one will know what it means etc. but I genuinely feel that’s people just complaining for the sake of it.
- What does iOS mean?
- What does Ice Cream Sandwich mean?
Nothing yet devices with those OS’s are still selling pretty well so I really don’t see it being a problem
The Windows Team Blog post has got a great, although not exhaustive, comparison chart between the 3 above versions here:
Windows 8 Enterprise & enhanced Software Assurance
Microsoft have kept the Enterprise edition of Windows going, reserved as always for customers purchasing Windows 8 Pro with Software Assurance.
As you’ve seen above, 2 features previously restricted to Enterprise have been moved into the Pro SKU (BitLocker and Multi-User Interface) but the other key differentiators from Windows 7 are there including:
- Direct Access
- Branch Cache
- VDI Enhancement
as well as a couple of new ones:
- Windows 8 App Deployment – “Domain joined PCs and tablets running Windows 8 Enterprise will automatically be enabled to side-load internal, Windows 8 Metro style apps”
- Windows To Go – “a fully manageable corporate Windows 8 desktop on a bootable external USB stick.”
That second addition aims to ease the pain around BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), which going to be a huge thing over these coming months and years.
Microsoft are also adding new benefits to Software Assurance on Windows 8 Pro, which will include:
- Windows To Go Use Rights: Windows To Go will allow companies to support Bring Your Own PC scenarios and will give employees who need to work from home more secure access to their full corporate environment. With Windows To Go use rights under Software Assurance, an employee will be able to use Windows To Go on any company PC licensed with Windows SA as well as from their home PC. Additionally, through a new companion device license for SA, employees will be able to use WTG on their personal devices at work.
- Windows RT Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) Rights: When used as a companion of a Windows Software Assurance licensed PC, Windows RT will automatically receive extended VDA rights. These rights will provide access to a full VDI image running in the datacenter which will make Windows RT a great complementary tablet option for business customers.
- Companion Device License: For customers who want to provide full flexibility for how employees access their corporate desktop across devices, we are introducing a new Companion Device License for Windows SA customers. For users of Windows Software Assurance licensed PCs this optional add-on will provide rights to access a corporate desktop either through VDI or Windows To Go on up to four personally owned devices.
These again make strides towards addressing the changes being brought about through BYOD and remote working.
You can see more info on the Windows Team Blog here:
That said, it will be interesting to see what changes (if any) are made to Office licensing (most probably through SA again) to bring it into line with BYOD needs…but that’s a separate topic