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April 17, 2012

Microsoft Reveals Key Features for Windows 8 and Windows RT

Windows 8 start screen

Microsoft on Monday revealed more details about the four editions of Windows 8 it will release when it makes its next operating system available later this year, including some key features that will be part of Windows RT, the SKU that's optimized for ARM processors.

"First, Windows 8 is the official product name for the next x86/64 editions of Windows," Brandon LeBlanc, Microsoft's Windows communications manager, wrote on the official Windows blog.

Microsoft's next OS for PCs and tablets powered by 32-bit and 64-bit x86 chips will come in two flavors, Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro, that can be purchased by consumers. Another edition of the x86-optimized Windows 8 will be made available to bulk purchasers, while the Windows on ARM (WOA) offering, Windows RT, comes in just one flavor and is only available as a pre-installed OS.

The software giant is loading up several new and updated features for its new OS, including the next version of Microsoft's Web browser, Internet Explorer 10, Windows Defender, Windows Update, and Enhanced Task Manager (see full chart of SKU features below).

But Windows RT looks to be a somewhat different animal than the x86 versions of Microsoft's next operating system. Unlike Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro, Windows RT won't be upgradeable from any edition of Windows 7, obviously, but it also won't get Windows Media Player or Storage Spaces.