updated 08:10 pm EDT, Mon April 16, 2012
Windows 8 sheds complex naming scheme
Microsoft communications manager Brandon LeBlanc detailed the Windows 8 version lineup in a sign the company may sincerely back away from previous complexity. Apart from confirming Windows 8 as the official name, the official showed that there would be just two x86-based versions, Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro. The Pro version would add business-focused features like BitLocker drive encryption, virtualization support, and support for domains, group policies, and hosting remote desktops.
Pro users can add an "economical" Windows Media Center pack to their version if they want an all-encompassing desktop release.
The ARM version would be its own separate edition, Microsoft said. Now called Windows RT, it would have the included copy of Office 15 and most of the Metro-based features of the x86 build, adding device-level encryption. As mentioned, however, it would not only drop support for third-party desktop apps but shed Storage Spaces and Windows Media Player, the latter of which is effectively replaced with a local music app.
Microsoft's strategy forks ARM devices off into a separate track, showing them as devices more explicitly meant to compete against the iPad and Android tablets, but also shows an attempt to simplify the desktop version after years of complexity. Although it publicly claimed simplicity, Microsoft has had as many as six or seven versions of Windows on the market at any one time, often with only slight variants on each. Some of the reduced complexity has come from lessons learned after Windows 7, where Microsoft now has an interface that doesn't have to be stripped down to run on low-end PCs.
The new model is closer to Apple's, where one version covers nearly all users and a second version exists only to accommodate those in a business context.
Microsoft is still refraining from mentioning pricing and release dates, but it's expected to release the software in or near October for prices similar to those for Windows 7. Special promotions will run at the same time, the company said.