Photo: Ellis Hamburger, Business Insider
Microsoft just revealed that it’s only going to have four editions of its next Windows operating system.Windows 8 will be the mainstream version. Windows 8 Pro will be for businesses and power users. Large companies on multi-year licence agreements will be able to get an Enterprise edition.
And Windows RT will be the special version for tablets based on the low-powered ARM chips that run most tablets today.
That’s a nice step back from the explosion of editions that started with Windows Vista.
Windows 7 has six editions: Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate. Hardware makers are generally OK with this huge array of choices — it gives them one more way to segment their PCs so they can sell higher-priced (and higher-margin) versions for power users, businesses, and enterprises.
But it’s a pain for customers to decode the differences.
The split between Windows 8 (for regular PCs and tablets running Intel-type chips) and Windows RT (for ARM-based tablets) is confusing enough — they’ll have different features, and Windows RT won’t run old Windows apps while Windows 8 will.
But at least Microsoft isn’t making matters worse by presenting a whole buffet of choices.