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Windows 8 May Have Fewer SKUs Than Windows 7, Vista

By - Source: ZDNet | B 54 comments

Instead of eleven SKUs as seen with Vista and six seen with Windows 7, the next version may only have three.

Documents made available on HP's web site -- which have since been modified -- revealed six Windows 8 "client" SKUs. The documents, discovered by ZDNet, were revision notes for the Alcor Micro Smart Card Reader Driver which listed the SKUs in the "operating system(s)" section. Currently it's unknown if the SKUs were merely document fillers, or the real deal, but it's assumed that HP would likely have the SKU information at this point.

According to the documents, the six versions will be as follows:

Microsoft Windows 8 32 Edition
Microsoft Windows 8 64 Edition
Microsoft Windows 8 Enterprise 32 Edition
Microsoft Windows 8 Enterprise 64 Edition
Microsoft Windows 8 Professional 32 Edition
Microsoft Windows 8 Professional 64 Edition

Additional snooping through Microsoft's website unearthed several documents that back up the listed SKUs. For the Windows 8 Beta SKUs, the name of the product will be used, meaning for Windows 8 Enterprise, the string "Windows 8 Enterprise" is used. The same scheme applies for the Windows Server 8 Beta SKUs: for Windows Server 8 Enterprise, the string "Windows Server 8 Enterprise" is used.

As reported earlier, Windows 8 will arrive in four versions: Windows 8 Server x64, Windows 8 Client ARM, Windows 8 Client x64, and Windows 8 Client x86. All Windows 8 systems targeted for client SKUs are required to support a graphics mode via UEFI GOP, Microsoft states. Windows on ARM will not be available for general consumption at retail -- it will only appear pre-installed on ARM-based devices.

Previously with Windows Vista, Microsoft shipped eleven different versions: Starter (32-bit only), Home Basic (32-bit, 64-bit), Home Premium (32-bit, 64-bit), Business (32-bit, 64-bit), Enterprise (32-bit, 64-bit) and Ultimate (32-bit, 64-bit). Windows 7, on the other hand, initially came with six different SKUs including Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate. And while there are arguments that Microsoft should adopt a single-SKU approach for Windows releases, a choice of six is still by far a lot easier for the general consumer to figure out than eleven.

"It is early to start the dialogue about a preference for one SKU with Windows," Steven Sinofsky said back in September 2011. "We’re well aware of this feedback and we always need to balance it with the feedback from our business partners who value a different approach. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Interestingly, the feedback about Media Center was predominantly “we will pay extra, just include it” based on the input directly to me. Today Media Center is part of 'premium' SKUs for Windows, which means that is the case today."

Windows 8 x86/x64 isn't slated to launch until later this year. Recent reports indicate that Microsoft is pushing to launch Windows on ARM in the same time-frame, but there are concerns that it may be pushed back and released after the x86/x64 versions.

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Top Comments
  • 24 Hide
    SteelCity1981 , February 28, 2012 7:55 AM
    they would even have less SKU's if they got rid of the 32bit Editions. I mean, there is really no point in 32bit Editions anymore. CPU's have been 64bit in the mainstream market for the last 7 years now since AMD's Socket 754 Athlon 64's and Intel's LGA775 Pentium 4 5x1 series. The vast majority of software supports 64bit now, It's time to move on. By continuing to support 32bit, all that days is continue to hold back 64bits full potential.
  • 20 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , February 28, 2012 8:43 AM
    And the point of a 32-bit OS nowadays is...?
  • 15 Hide
    apache_lives , February 28, 2012 9:48 AM
    if i remember correctly 32-bit came out late 80's early 90's - WHY YOU STILL HERE 32
Other Comments
    Display all 54 comments.
  • 24 Hide
    SteelCity1981 , February 28, 2012 7:55 AM
    they would even have less SKU's if they got rid of the 32bit Editions. I mean, there is really no point in 32bit Editions anymore. CPU's have been 64bit in the mainstream market for the last 7 years now since AMD's Socket 754 Athlon 64's and Intel's LGA775 Pentium 4 5x1 series. The vast majority of software supports 64bit now, It's time to move on. By continuing to support 32bit, all that days is continue to hold back 64bits full potential.
  • -2 Hide
    andy5174 , February 28, 2012 8:10 AM
    Home vs Pro vs Pro VLK
  • 7 Hide
    belardo , February 28, 2012 8:16 AM
    I am so glad that MS listens to me (yeah, right)... It was always STUPID to have Win7 basic Home and Premium Home. It was confusing... they could have simply have Basic, Home, Pro, Ultimate.

    It seems that MS is merging Basic/premium into "Windows 8" and Pro/Ultimate into "Windows 8 Pro". This is great! The only features I want out of Ultimate are the language packs so when visiting sites NOT in the USA, you don't see garbage! Overall Win7Pro handled everything most people needed with Ultimate being a big jump in price with so little to offer.

    Looking at online PC purchases, even $350 crapbooks from HP include 4GB RAM with Win7Home premo 64bit... So we can conclude that everything that is name brand will be 64bit be default. I cant see Win9 supporting 32bit. Other than a few straggling programs, there is no need for 32bit versions... and for some companies, that is a hard pill to swallow (But why are they wanting to use Win8 with old software?).

    I also guess that MS discovered that pretty much NOBODY ever used MS's stupid upgrade system (built in or gift-card). Sometimes DL upgrades / full purchases suck... An EX stupidly bought Win7 Download rather than buy the stupid disc... headaches.
  • 20 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , February 28, 2012 8:43 AM
    And the point of a 32-bit OS nowadays is...?
  • 15 Hide
    apache_lives , February 28, 2012 9:48 AM
    if i remember correctly 32-bit came out late 80's early 90's - WHY YOU STILL HERE 32
  • 8 Hide
    ethaniel , February 28, 2012 9:49 AM
    I'll probably sound crazy, but I just want a real, true, 100-percent, "win98se like" customized install. I want to choose the components manually.
  • 5 Hide
    Filiprino , February 28, 2012 10:01 AM
    Why still 32 bit Windows 8?
  • -5 Hide
    apache_lives , February 28, 2012 10:20 AM
    ethanielI'll probably sound crazy, but I just want a real, true, 100-percent, "win98se like" customized install. I want to choose the components manually.


    to save a couple mb of space? pffftt
  • 10 Hide
    apache_lives , February 28, 2012 10:21 AM
    JOSHSKORNAnd the point of a 32-bit OS nowadays is...?


    the rock i live under only supports 32bit?
  • 13 Hide
    Nakal , February 28, 2012 10:37 AM
    I'll give you an example why there is still 32bit. We use Avaya IP agent for our laptops as part of our Disaster Recovery plan, phone coverage, etc.. Well there is no 64bit version of that software and there will be none. And since we already own a license and they aren't willing to go out and buy a new license due to costs.

    That is just one of many pieces of software where I work that do not work on 64bit. Many enterprises and other companies still have software that only work on 32bit platforms, so it still behooves Microsoft to produce a 32bit version of the OS.
  • 3 Hide
    spp85 , February 28, 2012 10:37 AM
    Microsoft please discard 32 bit support on Windows 8 Its that 32 bit support makes our lazy software developers stick at developing 32bit programs. I don't think there would be any pentium 3 computers install windows 8. There is no need to think of the compatibility of old 32bit CPU's any more.
  • -6 Hide
    sporkimus , February 28, 2012 11:01 AM
    Honestly, this should be dwindled down to 3 versions.

    Microsoft Windows 8 32 Edition
    Microsoft Windows 8 Enterprise 64 Edition
    Microsoft Windows 8 Professional 64 Edition

    Offer one version of the OS in 32-bit, which will give you the basic install for those that only want a 32-bit OS. Then offer the Enterprise and Professional in 64-bit only, because honestly no one will want those versions in a 32-bit.
  • 4 Hide
    LORD_ORION , February 28, 2012 11:28 AM
    Everywhere QA engineers are rejoicing at the reduction of test platforms.
  • 6 Hide
    beardguy , February 28, 2012 11:49 AM
    Microsoft has never understood the principle of keeping things simple. There should be 2 versions of Windows 8, max. Consumers don't want to sit and try and figure out what version of Windows to buy.
  • 4 Hide
    kcorp2003 , February 28, 2012 12:01 PM
    why 32OS?!!!! move on, come on.
  • 13 Hide
    Ragnar-Kon , February 28, 2012 12:03 PM
    sporkimusThen offer the Enterprise and Professional in 64-bit only, because honestly no one will want those versions in a 32-bit.

    Not true, many Enterprise users will want 32-bit copies.

    I understand why everyone is crying out to end 32-bit versions of Windows, but it would be a bad idea for Microsoft. I can think of 4-5 pieces of software at work that ONLY run on 32-bit Windows and will not run on 64-bit. Honestly all of that older 32-bit software we have is still on Windows XP machines until we have the money to buy new hardware, but the newer versions that do support Windows 7 only run on 32-bit Win 7.

    If you remove any 32-bit version of Windows, remove the Win 8 Professional version. But then you are only removing one version, so might as well have 32 & 64 on every version. I can see 32-bit versions of Windows disappearing in the not so distant future, but Windows 8 is not the right time to do it.

    beardguyMicrosoft has never understood the principle of keeping things simple. There should be 2 versions of Windows 8, max. Consumers don't want to sit and try and figure out what version of Windows to buy.

    I actually agree with this, though I don't see Microsoft simplifying it that much. But they should just remove the Professional version and stick with standard & Enterprise. Make Enterprise only available with volume licensing, and bam, the normal consumer is left with only one choice: to get 32-bit or 64-bit.
  • -1 Hide
    bourgeoisdude , February 28, 2012 12:15 PM
    ethanielI'll probably sound crazy, but I just want a real, true, 100-percent, "win98se like" customized install. I want to choose the components manually.


    Like whether or not you want Windows Media Player or Internet Explorer installed? Yeah, just like Win98...oh wait
  • 3 Hide
    freggo , February 28, 2012 12:32 PM
    apache_livesto save a couple mb of space? pffftt


    Not a question of MB savings; also M& is of course the King of bloatware.
    But why should I install Media Player and Internet Explorer and Office Trial Promo and Outlook and Screen savers and Games etc. and than later painfully remove them one by one; only to wonder how many DLLs have not been removed and are now sitting around doing nothing - or worse- will be found out to be a perfect backdoor for a hacker.
  • 4 Hide
    matt_b , February 28, 2012 12:39 PM
    I can simplify it even better:
    Windows 8 32-bit (enterprise/business use more than likely)
    Windows 8-64 bit

    Why do we have so many different versions? For the most part, Microsoft does nothing more to make them that much better. There is only one version created by Microsoft (the overpriced top-dog), and you get more features taken out the lower on the totem pole you go for pricing. Obviously 32-bit and 64-bit necessitates a different product created, but does anyone else remember where when you had Windows OS on your computer, you just had.......Windows; and not all these money-grabbing opportunity versions?
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