Windows 8 is the basic edition of Windows for the IA-32 and x64 architectures. Documentation obtained from the ImageX tool and Paul Thurrott's book on Windows 8 also refer to this edition as "Core". 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 Enterprise provides all the features in Windows 8 Pro (except the ability to install the Windows Media Center add-on), with additional features to assist with IT organization (see table below). This edition is available to Software Assurance customers, as well as MSDN and Technet Professional subscribers, and was released on August 16, 2012.
Windows RT is only available pre-installed on ARM-based devices such as tablet PCs. It includes touch-optimized desktop versions of the basic set of Office 2013 applications to users—Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, and supports device encryption capabilities. Several business-focused features such as Group Policy and domain support are not included.
Windows RT only runs third-party WinRT software. Desktop software that run on previous versions of Windows cannot be run on Windows RT. According to CNET, these essential differences may raise the question of whether Windows RT is an edition of Windows: In a conversation with Mozilla, Microsoft deputy general counsel David Heiner was reported to have said Windows RT "isn't Windows anymore." Mozilla general counsel, however, dismissed the assertion on the basis that Windows RT has the same user interface, application programming interface and update mechanism.
All editions have the ability to use language packs, enabling multiple user interface languages. (This functionality was previously only available in Windows 7 Ultimate or Enterprise.) However, in China and a small number of other emerging markets, an edition of Windows 8 without this capability will be offered. In China (not including Hong Kong), a region-specific edition, Windows 8 for China, will be released, as confirmed by Steve Guggenheimer, Corporate Vice President. It will be offered at relatively low price in an attempt to curb rampant software piracy in China. On emerging markets, a similar edition called Windows 8 Single Language (SL) was released as well.
Additional Windows 8 editions specially destined for European markets have the letter "N" (e.g. Windows 8.1 Enterprise N) suffixed to their names and do not include a bundled copy of Windows Media Player. Microsoft was required to create the "N" editions of Windows after the European Commission ruled in 2004 that it needed to provide a copy of Windows without Windows Media Player tied in.
The following in-place upgrade paths are supported from Windows 7. Note that it is only possible to upgrade from an IA-32 version of Windows 7 to an IA-32 version of Windows 8; an x64 version of Windows 7 can only be upgraded to an x64 version of Windows 8. It is possible to upgrade Windows XP SP3 or Windows Vista to Windows 8 Pro. The retail package entitled Windows 8 Pro Upgrade is restricted to upgrading a computer with licensed Windows XP SP3, Windows Vista or Windows 7. Finally, there is no upgrade path for Windows RT, as it is the only version of Windows that currently supports the ARM architecture.
^ abcNot all computers running Windows 8 can perform sideloading. Out-of-box sideloading support is only available for Windows 8 Enterprise computers that have joined a Windows domain. Sideloading on Windows RT and Windows 8 Pro computers as well as Windows 8 Enterprise computers without a domain affiliation requires purchase of additional licenses through Microsoft volume licensing outlet.
^AppLocker enforces application whitelisting or blacklisting in a corporate environment. In other words, it can be used to allow or prevent execution of software based on name, version number or publisher.
^ abcdLeBlanc, Brandon. "Upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for $39.99". Blogging Windows. Retrieved 19 October 2012. "If you install the Windows 8 Pro System Builder product, you will be able to add Windows Media Center via the “add features” option within the product for free during the promotion."
^Leblanc, Brandon. "Upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for $39.99". Blogging Windows. Microsoft. Retrieved 2012-07-03. "You can add Windows Media Center for free through the “add features” option within Windows 8 Pro after your upgrade."
^ ab"How to Add and Remove Apps". TechNet. Microsoft. 31 May 2012. Retrieved 4 October 2012. "To enable sideloading on a Windows 8 Enterprise computer that is not domain-joined or on any Windows® 8 Pro computer, you must use a sideloading product activation key. To enable sideloading on a Windows® RT device, you must use a sideloading product activation key. For more information about sideloading product activation keys, see Microsoft Volume Licensing."