We're not sure if this is good news, but it's most definitely not bad news, as Microsoft appears to finally have understood that having half a dozen different consumer oriented versions of Windows is a bad thing, the company will only offer three different versions of Windows 8 when it launches. As such, expect to see Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro and Windows RT.

We're not sure if this is good news, but it's most definitely not bad news, as Microsoft appears to finally have understood that having half a dozen different consumer oriented versions of Windows is a bad thing, the company will only offer three different versions of Windows 8 when it launches. As such, expect to see Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro and Windows RT.

Let's start with the odd one out, Windows RT, this is the ARM version of Windows and it will only be available pre-loaded on the various ARM powered Windows devices. It will come with Microsoft Office – Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote – pre-installed albeit the touch friendly version specifically made for ARM based devices and it will support device encryption. It will also focus a lot more on touch centric input if that wasn't already obvious and it will of course not run x86/64 Windows applications. Oddly enough it will also miss features like Windows Media Player and support for storage spaces.

Windows 8 will be the general consumer version of Windows and owners of Windows 7 starter, Home Basic and Home Premium will be able to upgrade to Windows 8. Some of the features that used to be limited to Windows 7 Ultimate, such as the option to install any language you want has filtered through all the way down to Windows 8, something Microsoft ought to have done a long time ago.

The main difference between Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro is the inclusion of various “professional” features such as Microsoft's BitLocker encryption, support for encrypted file systems, VHD boot and client Hyper-V support, the ability to join a domain, group policies and remote desktop as a host. Owners of Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate will be able to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro. Apparently Windows Media Center will be an optional upgrade component for Windows 8 Pro and Microsoft states it'll be available as an “economical media pack”.

There will also be a fourth version of Windows 8, the one for enterprise customers and it will be called Windows 8 Enterprise. It'll be mostly the same as Windows 8 Pro, but with the addition of various PC management and network deployment features, virtualization, advanced security and various other features Microsoft didn't go into any detail about.

For a more in-depth look as to what features comes with each of the versions of Windows 8 we suggest you head over the Windows Blog and check out the extensive list of features that Microsoft has put together. Some are new, while others are simply carried over from previous versions of Windows.

Source: Microsoft Windows Blog