Windows 8 Versions & Key Differences

Each of the four versions of Windows 8 have different capabilities. This is a general overview of each version:

Windows 8

Windows 8 is the basic version of the new operating system, and is directed at home use. It’s the equivalent of Windows 7 Home Premium.

Windows 8 Pro

Windows 8 Pro is targeted towards enthusiasts and business users. It includes all the features of Windows 8, as well as a Remote Desktop server, 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 RT

Windows RT is for ARM-based devices such as a tablet PC like Surface RT. Windows RT is able to run Windows Store Apps but it does not support the x86/64 desktop applications common to previous versions of Windows.

RT has device encryption capabilities and the prevention of unauthorized software from tampering with the boot process, but business-focused features such as Group Policy and domain support are disabled.

Windows 8 Enterprise

Windows 8 Enterprise includes all the features of Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro, but adds features to benefit IT organizations. It is only available to Software Assurance customers through the Volume License Service Center (VLSC).

Add-On: Windows Media Center 

To add Windows Media Center functionality to a Windows installation (other than Windows RT) install the Windows 8 Media Center Pack.

Common Questions

What are the core features included in all versions of Windows 8?

All versions of Windows 8 include common built-in apps including Mail, Calendar, Messaging, Photos, SkyDrive, and Internet Explorer 10, as well as the ability to install apps from the Windows Store. There are also security and updates via Windows Defender, Windows Firewall, and Windows Update. Other features include: SmartScreen, Enhanced Task Manager, switch languages on the fly (Language Packs), better multiple monitor support, Exchange ActiveSync, file history, ISO/VHD mount, mobile broadband features, picture password, Play To, Remote Desktop (client), reset and refresh your PC, Snap, Touch and Thumb keyboard, trusted boot, and VPN client.

Which apps can run on Windows RT?

Windows RT is able to run Windows Store Apps downloaded from the Windows Store app. Office Home & Student 2013 RT Preview also comes pre-installed, providing tablet-optimized versions of Office applications including Word 2013 RT, Excel 2013 RT, PowerPoint 2013 RT and OneNote 2013 RT. The final version of Office Home and Student 2013 RT will become available via Windows Update and bear no additional cost.

What data protection is offered by Windows RT, Windows 8 Pro and Windows 8 Enterprise?

Windows RT and Windows 8 Pro use BitLocker technology to help keep information secure. Windows RT uses Device Encryption. Windows 8 protects PCs and removable drives with BitLocker and BitLocker To Go.

What Windows versions let you connect to your PC when on the go?

Windows Pro and Windows 8 Enterprise have Remote Desktop Connection, which lets you connect to another computer with a Remote Desktop client via a network or over the Internet. This lets a user see the remote computer’s screen, control it using an input device such as a keyboard and have access to all its programs and files.