Thankfully, this time around Microsoft has decided to simplify things greatly with their latest operating system release of Windows 8. The versions of Windows 8 available are:
- Windows 8
- Windows 8 Pro
- Windows RT
- Windows 8 Enterprise
For the Home User
Windows 8 is designed with the home user in mind. Follows the same Windows 8 UI build, interface and security while maintaining all of the multimedia and entertainment features. It has a slightly lower maximum RAM for the x64 bit version but in terms of features such as the new and improved Family Center, Windows 8 is more than enough for most home users, usually of the kind who:
- Watches Movies and listens to music
- Uses the computer for Internet browsing / Email / Social Media
- Plays Casual Gaming
- Is a normal consumer
For the Enthusiast / Professional
Windows 8 Pro or Professional uses the same features as Windows 8 but adds on a number of networking features making it suitable for small companies and lower-end enterprise users. As a plus it also offers better performance with a maximum RAM on par with the Enterprise version, making Windows 8 Professional better suited for the enthusiast overclocker and gaming rig owner. Noteworthy functions for Windows 8 Pro is that it offers some support for Remote Desktop functionality as well as support for Client Hyper-V allows for virtualized operating systems complete with x64-bit support (which basically means you can run previous versions of Windows such as XP, Vista or 7 on it).
For the Touch Screen Device / Tablet
Windows RT is the cut-down version of Windows 8 and is meant for the touch screen device or tablet running off of an ARM processor and chipset. While these users cannot access the Desktop and are restricted to just the Modern or Windows 8 UI interface it does have a number of features designed just for Windows RT such as the Network connectivity Assistant and Office Home and Student 2013 RT. However, it lacks the ability to support Offline Files and a number of other options only available on Windows 8 and above.
Tablet or touch screen devices running off of x86 processors on the other hand can run Windows 8 and have all the functions and features available for that version. It is also good to note that such tablets usually have much higher specs with at least 1GB of RAM and better GPUs. They also generally have larger than 7-inch display sizes (must support at least 1366 x 768 pixel resolutions) although there are some exceptions to this rule.
For the Network or Enterprise
Windows 8 Enterprise is designed wholly for the network administrator and Enterprise user. As such it basically has all the functionality of Windows 8 Pro but has full support for all of the various remote desktop functions available. It also has tighter integration with Microsoft’s server-side operating systems such as Windows Server 2012.
While it can run on a souped up home computer to run high-powered games, most of its more notable performance features lay in its networking functionality and support. While the interface may be decisive for the consumer, many of the functions and features here are not, making it more than suitable for the enterprise user. If your company were to deploy Windows 8 tomorrow, this is the operating system your system administrator would be using.
A more complete listing of all the features available in each of the Windows 8 versions is available here .