Windows 8 line up simplified, renamed

Windows 8 developer preview

Remember trying to figure out which version of Windows 7 you owned or needed to install if you were putting it on a fresh hard drive? With six different variations to choose from, you wouldn't have been the only one who got confused between Windows 7 Ultimate and Windows 7 Professional, for example. You would be unusually proficient if you could remember exactly what the differences between each one were, however.

Apparently Microsoft has learned something from the criticism. In a blog post yesterday , Brandon LeBlanc from the Windows team revealed that there will be just three versions for x86 systems, and one for ARM devices.

That's officially just a third less befuddling, then.

In order to maintain the necessary level of confusion appropriate to any Microsoft launch, the ARM OS has been renamed Windows RT, which is the same name as the underlying architecture for Metro apps on all systems. At least that's only likely to frustrate developers, mind, and not the public at large.

For most of us there's Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro. These correspond roughly to Home and Office versions. Most of the features are shared, but only Pro will get drive encryption with BitLocker, Hyper-V, Group Policy tools and Remote Desktop hosting. Keeping the network admin stuff for Pro seems like a good idea, although it's a shame that BitLocker isn't a universal tool when we could all do with a little bit security in our digital lives.

A further version, Windows 8 Enterprise, will only be available for volume licensing. LeBlanc's post is a little vague as to what that will include beyond 'advanced security, virtualisation, new mobility scenarios and much more'.

Finally, there's another version called Windows 7, which it's suspected will remain the popular choice with gamers despite only being available from shader backstreet dealers or refined from the blood of old hard drives.

“New mobility scenarios” indeed.