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What’s the Difference Between Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro and Windows RT?

Windows 8 is launching with three different versions for consumers. Here’s a look at the features that are included or not included in each one, and an easy to read comparison chart.

Windows 8 Surface Tablet

Windows 8 (32 & 64-bit)

Microsoft has officially named it simply “Windows 8”, but you’ll also see it called different things like Windows 8 Basic, Base or Core version. This version contains the essential components of the new operating system. It will come on most new laptops and desktops computers – like Home Premium did with Windows 7. If you’re the average home user, this is the version you’ll want.

Windows 8 Professional (32 & 64-bit)

Experienced power users will want to run the Pro version for its extra security and administrative functions. It has additional features like BitLocker to Go, Group Policy and Hyper-V to create and manage virtual machines. You’ll be able to connect this version to a domain too. Also, if you want to run Windows Media Center, you need this version and purchase it as a “media pack”. If you’re a real “geekhead” enthusiast or supporting a small office environment, this is the version for you.

Windows RT (32-bit only)

RT is the new version of Windows running on ARM processors that are optimized for mobile devices. Windows RT is going to run on tablets like the Microsoft Surface. It features the new Windows 8 (Metro / Modern UI) touch interface. But it won’t have the ability to run desktop apps. It will be able to run a touch optimized version of Microsoft Office, but won’t run desktop applications.

Keep this in mind when deciding if you’re thinking about getting a Microsoft Surface or other manufacturer’s Windows RT tablet. You’re not going to be able to run current desktop apps like Audacity, Pidgin IM, iTunes for Windows…etc. Until the “metro / modern UI” environment gets apps specific for that interface, you’ll be limited to what you can use.

This chart contains the information for each version that was posted on the Windows Team blog. This doesn’t include every feature, but gives a solid representation of what is or isn’t included in each version. If you have any specific questions about a feature, leave a comment and we’ll do our best to sort it out for you.

Feature name

Windows 8

Windows 8 Pro

Windows RT

Upgrades from Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium

x

x

 

Upgrades from Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate

 

x

 

Start screen, Semantic Zoom, Live Tiles

x

x

x

Windows Store

x

x

x

Apps (Mail, Calendar, People, Messaging, Photos, SkyDrive, Reader, Music, Video)

x

x

x

Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote)

 

 

x

Internet Explorer 10

x

x

x

Device encryption

 

 

x

Connected standby

x

x

x

Microsoft account

x

x

x

Desktop

x

x

x

Installation of x86/64 and desktop software

x

x

 

Updated Windows Explorer

x

x

x

Windows Defender

x

x

x

SmartScreen

x

x

x

Windows Update

x

x

x

Enhanced Task Manager

x

x

x

Switch languages on the fly (Language Packs)

x

x

x

Better multiple monitor support

x

x

x

Storage Spaces

x

x

 

Windows Media Player

x

x

 

Exchange ActiveSync

x

x

x

File history

x

x

x

ISO / VHD mount

x

x

x

Mobile broadband features

x

x

x

Picture password

x

x

x

Play To

x

x

x

Remote Desktop (client)

x

x

x

Reset and refresh your PC

x

x

x

Snap

x

x

x

Touch and Thumb keyboard

x

x

x

Trusted boot

x

x

x

VPN client

x

x

x

BitLocker and BitLocker To Go

 

x

 

Boot from VHD

 

x

 

Client Hyper-V

 

x

 

Domain Join

 

x

 

Encrypting File System

 

x

 

Group Policy

 

x

 

Remote Desktop (host)

 

x

 

 

There is also the Windows 8 Enterprise edition, but you won’t need to worry about that as a consumer. Let your IT guys at work figure that one out. Make sure to check out the rest of our awesome Tips, Trick and How To’s on Windows 8!

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7 Responses to What’s the Difference Between Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro and Windows RT?

  1. Jack Busch October 9, 2012 at 2:57 am #

    Thanks Brian! Awesome chart.

  2. Vinson Advertising October 9, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

    I subscribe to 30 or so blogs about advertising. I learn more from your posts than all of them combined. Keep up the good work.
    Chris Vinson

    • Brian Burgess October 10, 2012 at 9:51 pm #

      Thanks Vinson! Stick around — more great content will keep coming!

  3. Tommy Bananas October 10, 2012 at 8:54 am #

    Slick chart, you’ll have to do a tutorial on how to make these!

    • Brian Burgess October 10, 2012 at 9:54 pm #

      Thanks Tommy. Actually, I don’t think we do, but that’s a great suggestion. The data is directly from the Building Windows 8 Blog, and i created the chart in Microsoft Word 2013.

  4. Chris October 11, 2012 at 12:54 pm #

    $39 buys either Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro, is this correct.

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