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Windows 8 editions

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Windows 8, a major release of the Microsoft Windows operating system, was available in four different editions: Windows 8 (Core), Pro, Enterprise, and RT. Only Windows 8 (Core) and Pro were widely available at retailers.[1] The other editions focus on other markets, such as embedded systems or enterprise. All editions support 32-bit IA-32 CPUs and x64 CPUs.


Windows 8
Windows 8 (also sometimes referred to as Windows 8 (Core) to distinguish from the OS itself)[2] is the basic edition of Windows for the IA-32 and x64 architectures. This edition contains features aimed at the home market segment and provides all of the basic new Windows 8 features.
Windows 8 Pro
Windows 8 Pro is comparable to Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate[3][4] and is targeted towards enthusiasts and business users; it includes all the features of Windows 8. Additional features include the ability to receive Remote Desktop connections, the ability to participate in a Windows Server domain, Encrypting File System, Hyper-V, and Virtual Hard Disk Booting, Group Policy as well as BitLocker and BitLocker To Go. Windows Media Center functionality is available only for Windows 8 Pro as a separate software package.[5]
Windows 8 Enterprise
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).[3] This edition is available to Software Assurance customers, as well as MSDN and Technet Professional subscribers, and was released on 16 August 2012.[6]
Windows RT
Windows RT is only available pre-installed on ARM-based devices such as tablet PCs.[7] 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.
Software for Windows RT can be either downloaded from Windows Store or sideloaded, although sideloading on Windows RT must first be enabled by purchasing additional licenses through Microsoft volume licensing outlet.[8][9] Desktop software that run on previous versions of Windows cannot be run on Windows RT[10] as Windows Store apps are based on Windows Runtime API which differs from the traditional apps.[8] 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.[11]

Unlike Windows Vista and Windows 7, there are no Home Basic, Home Premium, or Ultimate editions.[12]

Regional restrictions and variations[edit]

All mentioned editions have the ability to use language packs, enabling multiple user interface languages.[4] (This functionality was previously available in Ultimate or Enterprise edition of Windows 7 and Windows Vista.) However, in China and other emerging markets,[citation needed] a variation of Windows 8 without this capability, called Windows 8 Single Language, is sold. This edition can be upgraded to Windows 8 Pro.[13] Furthermore, like in Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 8 (since the latter shares the same Windows NT kernel as its desktop variant), OEMs can choose not to support certain display languages either out of the box or available for download. These exact choices depend on the device manufacturer, country of purchase, and the wireless carrier. For example, a cellular-connected Samsung ATIV Smart PC running Windows 8 on AT&T only supports English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, and Korean (the last three are available as optional downloads).

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.

Windows 8.1 with Bing is a reduced-cost SKU of Windows 8.1 for OEMs that was introduced in May 2014. It was introduced as part of an effort to encourage the production of low-cost devices, whilst "driving end-user usage of Microsoft Services such as Bing and OneDrive". It is subsidized by Microsoft's Bing search engine, which is set as the default within Internet Explorer, and cannot be changed to a third-party alternative by the OEM. This restriction does not apply to end-users, who can still change the default search engine freely after installation. It is otherwise identical to the base edition.[14][15][16]

Editions for embedded systems[edit]

Windows Embedded 8 Standard
Windows Embedded 8 Standard is a componentized edition of Windows 8 for use in specialized devices. It was released on 20 March 2013.[17][18] Notable for being the only edition of Windows 8 to not get an update to 8.1. It reached the end of mainstream support on July 10, 2018, and reached the end of extended support on July 11, 2023. [19]
Windows Embedded 8 Industry
Windows Embedded 8 Industry is an edition of Windows 8 for use in industrial devices. It was released on 2 April 2013 and is available in Pro, Pro Retail, and Enterprise editions.[20]
Windows Embedded 8 [For Embedded Systems (FES)]
Includes Windows Embedded 8 Pro and Windows Embedded 8 Enterprise editions, which are binary identical to their respective non-embedded editions, differing only in licensing.[21]

These are the final editions of Windows (excluding Server) to use the "Windows Embedded" branding. Starting with the release of Windows 10, Microsoft switched to the use of "Windows IoT" branding.

Upgrade compatibility[edit]

The following in-place upgrade paths are supported from Windows 7.[3] It is only possible to upgrade from an IA-32 variant of Windows 7 to an IA-32 variant of Windows 8; an x64 variant of Windows 7 can only be upgraded to an x64 variant of Windows 8. The retail package entitled Windows 8 Pro Upgrade was restricted to upgrading a computer with licensed Windows XP SP3, Windows Vista or Windows 7. Finally, there is no upgrade path for Windows RT.[22]

Windows 8 upgrade path[23]
Edition of
Windows 7
to upgrade
Edition of Windows 8
to upgrade to
Core Pro Enterprise
Starter Yes Yes No
Home Basic Yes Yes No
Home Premium Yes Yes No
Ultimate No Yes No
Professional No Yes Yes
Enterprise No No Yes

In-upgrade is not available for Windows Vista and Windows XP. However, on Windows XP SP3 and Windows Vista RTM, it is possible to perform a clean install while preserving personal files. On Windows Vista SP1, it is possible to perform a clean install but save system settings as well. While Microsoft still refers to the scenarios as "upgrade", the user still need to reinstall all apps, carry out necessary license activation steps and reinstate app settings.[24]

Comparison chart[edit]

Comparison of Windows 8/8.1 editions[3][9]
Features Windows RT Windows 8 (Core) Windows 8 Pro Windows 8 Enterprise
Availability[25] Pre-installed on devices[7] Most channels Most channels Volume License customers Most channels
Architecture ARM (32-bit) IA-32 (32-bit) or x64 (64-bit) IA-32 (32-bit) or x64 (64-bit) IA-32 (32-bit) or x64 (64-bit)
Maximum physical memory (RAM)[26] 4 GB[27] 128 GB on x64
4 GB on IA-32
512 GB on x64
4 GB on IA-32
512 GB on x64
4 GB on IA-32
Secure boot Yes Yes Yes Yes
Picture password Yes Yes Yes Yes
Start screen, Semantic Zoom, Live Tiles Yes Yes Yes Yes
Touch and Thumb keyboard Yes Yes Yes Yes
Language packs Depends on OEM, region, and carrier Depends on OEM, region, and carrier Depends on OEM, region, and carrier Yes
Updated File Explorer Yes Yes Yes Yes
Standard apps[a] Yes Yes Yes Yes
File History Yes Yes Yes Yes
Refresh and reset of OS Yes Yes Yes Yes
Play To Yes Yes Yes Yes
Connected Standby Yes Yes Yes Yes
Windows Update Yes Yes Yes Yes
Windows Defender Yes Yes Yes Yes
Better multi-monitor support Yes Yes Yes Yes
New Windows Task Manager Yes Yes Yes Yes
ISO image and VHD mounting Yes Yes Yes Yes
Mobile broadband features Yes Yes Yes Yes
Microsoft account integration Yes Yes Yes Yes
Internet Explorer 10 Yes Yes Yes Yes
SmartScreen Yes Yes Yes Yes
Windows Store Cannot download as of EOL date Cannot download as of EOL date Cannot download as of EOL date Cannot download as of EOL date
Xbox Live (including Xbox Live Arcade)[28][29] Partial Partial Partial Partial
Exchange ActiveSync Yes Yes Yes Yes
Snap Yes Yes Yes Yes
Can connect to a VPN? No No No No
Desktop Yes Yes Yes Yes
Support for language packs and switching Depends on OEM, region, and carrier Depends on OEM, region, and carrier Depends on OEM, region, and carrier Yes
Device encryption[b][31] Yes With Windows 8.1 With Windows 8.1 With Windows 8.1
Supported third-party apps[3][32] Windows Store apps only Windows Store and desktop Windows Store and desktop Windows Store and desktop
Remote Desktop Client only Client only Client and host Client and host
Storage spaces No Yes Yes Yes
Windows Media Player No Yes Yes Yes
BitLocker and EFS No No Yes Yes
Sideload Windows Store apps[8][9] Partial[c] No Partial[c] Partial[c]
Boot from VHD No No Yes Yes
Can join a Windows domain? Disabled by default No Yes Yes
Group Policy Yes No Yes Yes
Parental Controls Unknown Yes Yes Yes
Hyper-V[33] No No 64-bit SKUs only 64-bit SKUs only
AppLocker[d] No No No Yes
Windows To Go No No No Yes
DirectAccess No No No Yes
BranchCache[e] No No No Yes
Can be virtualized by RemoteFX? No No No Yes
Services for Network File System[36] No No No Yes
Subsystem for Unix-based Applications No No No Deprecated[37]
Windows Media Center No No (yes with upgrade to W8 Pro)[f][5] Optional[5] No
Microsoft Office apps bundled with OS Yes[g] No No No
Features Windows RT Windows 8 (Core) Windows 8 Pro Windows 8 Enterprise


  1. ^ Includes Mail, Calendar, People, Messaging, Photos, Reader, Music, Video, Bing, Weather, Sports, News, Finance, Camera, Travel, Maps and SkyDrive app.
  2. ^ Device encryption, a feature introduced in Windows Mobile 6.5, encrypts the contents of a mobile device to enhance their security.[30]
  3. ^ a b c Not 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.[8]
  4. ^ 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.[34]
  5. ^ BranchCache, a feature of Windows 7 and later, locally caches contents received from a file server or web server to enable faster subsequent uses.[35]
  6. ^ In this case, installing the add-in would also require upgrading Windows 8 to Windows 8 Pro.[5]
  7. ^ Includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote RT. Windows RT 8.1 adds Outlook.


  1. ^ Bradley, Tom (17 April 2012). "Windows 8: Which Version Should You Choose?". PCWorld. Retrieved 17 April 2012.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ "Windows 8 Secrets, Beyond the Book: Guide to Product Editions". Supersite for Windows. Penton. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d e LeBlanc, Brandon (2012). "Announcing the Windows 8 Editions". Blogging Windows. Microsoft. Archived from the original on 2 August 2014. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
  4. ^ a b Foley, Mary Jo (2012). "Microsoft: Here are the four editions of Windows 8". ZDNet. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
  5. ^ a b c d LeBlanc, Brandon (2 July 2012). "Upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for $39.99 | Windows Experience Blog". blogs.windows.com. Retrieved 24 January 2020. And if you want, you can add Windows Media Center for free through the "add features" option within Windows 8 Pro after your upgrade.
  6. ^ Rose, Stephen (16 August 2012). "Windows 8 Is Ready For Your Enterprise". Microsoft. Retrieved 16 August 2012.
  7. ^ a b Mackie, Kurt (17 April 2012). "Microsoft Names Windows 8 Editions, Unveils ARM-Based 'Windows RT'". Redmonad Channel Partner. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
  8. ^ a b c d "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.
  9. ^ a b c Visser, Erwin (18 April 2012). "Introducing Windows 8 Enterprise and Enhanced Software Assurance for Today's Modern Workforce". Windows for your Business. Microsoft. Archived from the original on 25 December 2012. Retrieved 22 November 2012.
  10. ^ "Windows RT: FAQ". Windows portal. Microsoft. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  11. ^ Shankland, Stephen (9 May 2012). "Microsoft bans Firefox on ARM-based Windows, Mozilla says". CNET. Retrieved 22 October 2012.
  12. ^ Taylor, Bill (17 April 2012). "Microsoft Announces Revamped Windows 8 Editions". Tom's Hardware. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
  13. ^ "Add features: FAQ". Windows 8 Help. Microsoft. Archived from the original on 23 October 2015. Can I add features to my Single Language edition of Windows? Yes. If you bought the Windows 8.1 Pro Pack or Windows 8 Pro Pack, you should be able to install it and activate Windows successfully.
  14. ^ Thurrott, Paul (6 March 2014). "Windows 8.1 with Bing Revealed". SuperSite for Windows. Penton Media. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  15. ^ Chacos, Brad (23 May 2014). "Microsoft announces Windows 8.1 with Bing for low-cost devices". PC World. IDG.
  16. ^ "Microsoft fights Android and Chrome OS with dirt-cheap Windows 8.1 PCs and tablets". ZDNet. CBS Interactive. 3 September 2014. Retrieved 4 September 2014.
  17. ^ "Windows Embedded 8 Generally Available". news.microsoft.com. Retrieved 22 August 2020.
  18. ^ Foley, Mary Jo. "Microsoft makes first of its Windows Embedded 8 releases generally available". ZDNet. Retrieved 22 August 2020.
  19. ^ GitHub-Name. "Windows Embedded 8 Standard - Microsoft Lifecycle". learn.microsoft.com. Retrieved 11 July 2023.
  20. ^ "Microsoft releases Windows Embedded 8 Industry Pro, Pro Retail, and Enterprise editions". Retrieved 22 August 2020.
  21. ^ "Windows Embedded Version Overview" (PDF). PROXIS. p. 11. Retrieved 15 January 2024.
  22. ^ Leblanc, Brandon. "Upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for $39.99". Blogging Windows. Microsoft. Retrieved 3 July 2012. You can add Windows Media Center for free through the "add features" option within Windows 8 Pro after your upgrade.
  23. ^ "Windows 8 Upgrade Paths". Microsoft TechNet. Microsoft. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
  24. ^ Rodgers, Evan (28 June 2012). "Microsoft reveals Windows 8 upgrade paths: XP, Vista, and 7 eligible, but with caveats". The Verge. Vox Media.
  25. ^ Thurott, Paul (16 April 2012). "News Flash! Microsoft Stops SKUing Customers with Windows 8". Penton Media. Archived from the original on 27 February 2013. Retrieved 12 November 2012.
  26. ^ "Physical Memory Limits: Windows 8". Microsoft Developer Network. 16 October 2012. Retrieved 2 November 2010.
  27. ^ "Physical Memory Limits: Windows RT 8.1". Microsoft. September 2013. Retrieved 2 October 2013.
  28. ^ "Windows 8 To Integrate Xbox Live Support". Maximum PC. Retrieved 29 August 2011.
  29. ^ "Windows 8 Feature Focus: Xbox LIVE Games". Paul Thurrott's Supersite for Windows. Archived from the original on 31 July 2012. Retrieved 21 April 2012.
  30. ^ "Device Encryption". MSDN Library. Microsoft. 8 April 2010. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
  31. ^ Thurrott, Paul (4 June 2013). "In Blue: Device Encryption". Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows. Penton Media. Archived from the original on 9 June 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  32. ^ "Windows 8 vs Windows RT: what's the difference?". TechRadar. Archived from the original on 3 September 2012. Retrieved 5 September 2012.
  33. ^ Sinofsky, Steven (9 July 2011). "Bringing Hyper-V to "Windows 8"". Building Windows 8. Microsoft. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  34. ^ "AppLocker". Microsoft TechNet. Microsoft. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
  35. ^ "BranchCache". Windows Server 2008 R2 homepage. Microsoft. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
  36. ^ "Services for NFS availability in Windows 8 editions (Revision 1.0)". Microsoft Support. Microsoft. 18 October 2012. Retrieved 8 November 2012.
  37. ^ "Utilities and SDK for Subsystem for UNIX-based Applications in Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012". Download Center. Microsoft. 31 October 2012. Retrieved 31 March 2013. ...be sure that SUA [Subsystem for Unix-based Applications] is installed on the target computer. On computers that are running Windows 8 Enterprise, open Control Panel/Programs/Programs and Features/Turn Windows features on or off, and then select Subsystem for UNIX-based Applications.