Will Microsoft ship ten versions of Windows 8? Files in the registry within the consumer preview imply it will.
The Windows 8 Beta blog revealed that a number of registry keys hinting at different Windows 8 versions can be found in the system registry. PCMag.com was able to confirm the blog's findings by using RegEdit on the one of the product entries.
The new Windows 8 versions appear to be:
Over 1 million people have downloaded the Consumer Preview.
You might recall the five mainstream Windows 7 versions: Windows 7 Starter, Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Enterprise, and Windows 7 Ultimate. Windows 7 Home Basic was also sold, but only to emerging markets.
When Microsoft announced the six new Windows 7 versions, it represented a dramatic expansion of the two main versions, Windows XP Home and Professional. (In the end, however, Microsoft shipped several more flavors of Windows XP, including Windows XP Professional X64 Edition for AMD Opteron processors, Windows XP Starter Edition, and region specific versions, such as Windows XP K and N.)
Microsoft explained the additional versions of Windows 7 by claiming that its huge customer base demanded more choices.
"When you have a customer base of more than one billion, two options can't satisfy all of their varied needs," Microsoft said in a document that it released at the time. "For that reason, we will continue to offer a few targeted SKUs for customers with specialized needs: For price-sensitive customers with small notebook PCs, some OEMs will offer Windows 7 Starter. For customers in emerging markets, we will make Windows 7 Home Basic available. Businesses have two recommended choices: Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Enterprise. Windows 7 Professional is recommended for small businesses and Windows 7 Enterprise is recommended for mid- and large-sized businesses that have a Software Assurance Agreement with Microsoft."
In a recent post, Microsoft recommended that users run Windows 8 on local hardware, rather than on a virtual machine. The company said that users who run Windows 8 on a 1-GHz processor, 1 GHz of RAM for 32-bit versions (or 2 GB for 64-bit versions) and use either 16 GB hard disk space (20 GB for 64-bit machines), plus DX9 graphics, should have a "functionally equivalent experience to Windows 7".
"Also note that the final release of Windows 8 will not support upgrading from any prior Windows 8 "Preview" release, though the migrate option will still be supported," Grant George, the vice president of Windows Test, wrote. "In any upgrade scenario, you can run the Disk Cleanup Wizard to remove the previous installation in order to free up disk space. The download will also support boot from USB for a completely clean installation as well."