Historically, Microsoft has released a confusing number of Windows operating systems. It was hard to decide which one to get. With Windows 8, there are really only 2 choices for consumers.
–Release Date is October 26, 2012–
Versions of Windows 8
Windows 8 – this is the one probably most consumers will get because it supports upgrading from Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic or Home Premium. Most home/consumer users are running Home Basic or Home Premium as that’s what came with most PCs.
Changes include accessories we’re used to having come with Windows are now called Apps. There will be Mail, Calendar, People, Photo, Messaging, SkyDrive, Reader, Music & Video Apps. They will be represented by tiles on our desktop. Also packaged with Windows 8 will be IE 10, connected standby and what they are calling Microsoft account integration. This was formerly your Windows Live ID. After Windows 8 is installed, you’ll enter in your Windows Live ID (now Microsoft account). If you’ve used a Live ID and all the Windows Live services in the past, all of your content will automatically populate on your new computer – effortless!
Windows 8 Pro – this has all the features of Windows 8 plus this version supports upgrading from all previous Windows Versions including Windows Professional and Ultimate. Note that if you are running Windows Professional, you will only be able to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro.
The nice add-ons with this version are that you get protection with BitLocker and BitLocker To Go (encrypting your drive or folders on your drive). This version is more for the enterprise as it has domain joining, Group Policy and other things we won’t go into here.
Most people want to know how/if they can use their mouse with Windows 8. We’ve all heard so many things about touch (they call it ‘semantic zoom’), and how that will be such a different and foreign experience for most consumers. Rest assured, yes you can! Any command or move that can be done with a touch screen can be accomplished with either keyboard only or mouse commands.
Many Windows 8 early adopters have said it’s very helpful to get a list of shortcuts and memorize some of them to make things easy. Here’s a link to some commonly used keyboard shortcuts
Windows 8 Upgrade Costs
The price is just $40 for anyone running any version of Windows – so XP users, if you’ve been holding out, it’s still $40 for you. Of course if you’re running a computer with XP, it may be time to get a new one . I’ve heard that Microsoft is running a promotion for people who buy a new PC from June 2 through release date that they can get an Upgrade to Windows 8 Pro (the one with BitLocker), for just $15.
No Windows Media Center or DVD Playback Capabilities
Windows Media Center will not be in Windows 8 – for some reason, they’ve decided to leave it out. BUT, you can get an ‘Add On Windows Media Center pack’ with Windows 8 Pro. I believe there is a cost, but I don’t think they’ve announced how much.
If you get the Media Center Add-on, you can play your DVDs from within Media Center, otherwise, no playback of DVDs or Blue ray discs come with Win 8. Instead, you’ll have to find and install your own software. However, most PCs come with DVD playing software.