Windows 8

Microsoft on Monday officially unveiled the SKUs for its Windows 8 operating system. The firm said it will release both Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro for x86 and 64-bit architectures and will also launch Windows RT for Windows on ARM (WOA) machines.

“For many consumers, Windows 8 will be the right choice,” the company said in a blog post. The operating system will support a touchscreen or a keyboard and a mouse and users will be able to switch between using either at any point. Windows 8 will include an updated version of Windows Explorer, the Task Manager, improved multi-monitor support and the option to quickly switch between languages. Microsoft said it will offer a local language-only version of the OS in parts of China and in select emerging markets.

“Windows 8 Pro is designed to help tech enthusiasts and business/technical professionals obtain a broader set of Windows 8 technologies,” Microsoft explained. “It includes all the features in Windows 8 plus features for encryption, virtualization, PC management and domain connectivity.” Microsoft will make Windows Media Center an optional “media pack” add-on for the Pro version of Windows 8.

Windows RT will be available on PCs and tablets that are powered by ARM processors and will come pre-installed. Microsoft said the focus of this build is on “impressive” battery life. It “will include touch-optimized desktop versions of the new Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote,” the company said. “For new apps, the focus for Windows RT is development on the new Windows runtime, or WinRT, which we unveiled in September and forms the foundation of a new generation of cloud-enabled, touch-enabled, web-connected apps of all kinds.”

The first Windows 8 devices are expected to launch later this year and Microsoft’s Windows 8 Consumer Preview is already available if you want to give the OS a test run.

[Windows Team Blog]