Join Steve Fullmer for an in-depth discussion in this video Which version for me?, part of Windows 8 for IT Professionals.
- You decided to migrate to Windows 8, and you're trying to figure out which version you want. Well, it would be really easy just to give you a table and let you go right down the checklist and figure out which features of those available you would like and then pick a version. Rather than doing that, I'm gonna give you a little bit of a background. A decision tree or essentially a diagram so you can figure out which version you might want to migrate to as you go towards Windows 8. To start with, there's very little version in terms, version difference, if you want the 32 or 64-bit, other than the Windows RT, which we'll talk about more in just a moment.
All of the other versions of Windows 8, other than RT, those support the 32 and 64-bit environments. The one big difference is the Enterprise version of Windows 8 is typically only available through volume license channels, so large corporate customers of Microsoft. Unless you have access to that, you're gonna be selecting between Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro. The Windows 8 version is essentially the home version. Unlike Windows 7, which had a Starter, a Basic, a Home Premium, you just have one version and they're calling it Windows 8 unless you move into the corporate or enterprise space.
The RT version is designed to be run on armed based processors, and it's pre-installed by the OEM or the manufacturer. You cannot purchase the armed version or Windows RT, so that's gonna become pre-installed. It comes pre-installed with selected elements of Office 2013 as well and so it's pretty much set and ready to go. The one thing that the armed processor doesn't provide for you is any ability to do domain attachment or to manage the system through your policy.
As a result of that, lots of corporate environments are going to have some concern about security issues. A lot of the security features in Windows 8 are much, much stronger than prior Windows operating systems, but you don't have that same ability to do central control as you would with your policy. So it's really also designed for the new runtime environment, that modern or metro app, the tiles that are on the desktop? So if you're trying to run other applications, you're going to have to have developers build that interface for you or acquire your applications almost exclusively through the Microsoft store.
Well let's aside Windows 8 RT for now, unless that's where you want to go, and let's take a look at the other selections that you've got. The feature in Windows 8 are fairly consistent, so rather than having a list, a checklist, or a shopping list that says I want this piece or I want that piece, you're really going to get most of the features for any version of Windows 8. Instead of having only the higher level, the Enterprise or Ultimate versions have the language packs, all versions of Windows 8 now support language packs for all the languages supported across the country, and I want to point out, when we say language packs, we're talking about the entire operating system, not just the ability of Office components to be able to work with multiple languages, we're talking the entire interface being presented in a particular language set.
All of the versions support the touchscreen, the new start screen, and the touch drivers and features. As a matter of fact, all versions support most of the hardware drivers embedded in the Windows image file. All of the live tiles that you can see on the desktop. So if I go back to my desktop here and you see the tiles that are being regularly refreshed. Those live tiles are available on all versions of Windows 8. All versions would prefer that you did your authentication using a Microsoft Live account, although in the domain environment you don't need to do that you can register just a domain account just on your system.
The Windows desktop, and it's typically a Windows 7 based desktop, is available on all the versions, and so you have the ability to run Windows 7 applications and prior applications in compatibility mode on your Windows 7 desktop in the Windows 8, Pro, and Enterprise versions. We have enhanced Windows Update and we'll talk more about Defender in a separate module, effectively Defender has integrated the components of security essentials so it's no long just a spyware app, it's now a more robust malware app.
You have the ability to do ISO and VHD mounting, well you're gonna have to be able to do that because a lot of the touchscreen tablets that are out there that support Windows 8 don't have DVD drives, mine doesn't, so you have to have the ability to mount ISO and VHD files, in many cases, downloaded from the internet or pulled from a USB file in order to install some of your software. You also have Internet Explorer 10 by default and you have the Microsoft VPN client on all versions prepared and ready to use. And active sync is available to you, embedded in the desktop to be able to sync mobile and other devices that you might have, for instance, to do your contacts.
So, all of those features exists in all the versions, so how do you select whether you want Windows 8, Windows 8 Professional, or Windows 8 Enterprise? If you can get the volume activation license for Enterprise, we'll just assume that you have access to that because you work for a large corporation or have a volume agreement and so, let's not base the decision on that, let's look at some other characteristics we might use to make our decision. Well the first question that you're gonna ask is, are you going to attach to a domain environment? If your answer is "yes," you need to attach to a domain environment, then you either want Pro or Enterprise.
And then you have to make another decision for yourself, do you want to have some of the Enterprise features or not? So we're gonna take a look at those. If you were to say no, I don't want domain, so we say no to the domain, then you have a choice of, do you want the home version or do you want some of the high end versions that are available in Windows 8 Pro. So first, let's take a look at the features that I'm calling "high end," those elements that might cause you to decide that you want the Pro version rather than the Home version.
And again, the Home version just called Windows 8. Microsoft doesn't label them high end, that's my term. So, if you want to use encryption, EFS or Bitlocker, then you need to use the professional version. Now, encrypting file system is a part of NTFS, that's in the file system, but because of the way that security is enabled in Windows today, if you choose to use encryption, you need the professional version. The Media Center is only available with the Pro version, as a matter of fact, if you want to get Media Center available and you have the Windows 8 version, you can buy what's called the Pro Pack and the Pro Pack will directly upgrade you into Windows 8 Professional so that you can use Media Center.
Both the client and the host for remote desktop, you need to go to Pro. Now, the Home version, Windows 8, can be a Windows remote desktop client, what we mean by client is the piece that can connect to a remote server. If you want to be the server or host of a remote session, sorry, if you want to be able to host a remote desktop session, then you need to have the Windows 8 Pro or Enterprise versions. If you want to be able to boot from a virtual harddrive.
So changing your boot control data base to be able to boot into a virtual harddrive instance that you stored on your primary or an alternate data partition on your system, then you need to have Windows 8 Professional or Enterprise. And if you're going to use Hyper-V, and again we'll talk about the features that Windows 8 has removed that were present in Windows 7 in another module, but if you want to use the virtual capabilities then you need to have a 64-bit version of at least Windows Pro, Windows 8 Pro, and you need to have SLAT enabled in your CPU.
And we've talked about that kinda in another module. So those are the high end features, so going back, if you need any of those specific high end features, you've decided that you need to go at least to Pro. And so, it's kind of a decision path for you. So if at some point you've said, "Ok I know I need "to be in the domain environment, those are "the features I need, I need Professional." If you're not in a domain environment, you just look at that list and decide whether or not you want to go to the Windows 8 version for personal use or home use or small office, home office, or whether you need the extra features associated with Windows 8 Pro.
But you're in a domain environment, you already made that decision. You now have to decide whether your entire enterprise, or your domain, is wanting to support Pro or the Enterprise features. So let's look at that Enterprise set. So going a little further, here are the features that are only supported in the Windows 8 Enterprise version. First of all, Applocker, the ability, through the group policy settings, whether it's local security policy or center-ly administered domain policy, to support white list and blacklist access to particular applications.
So if you're trying to allow or block specific applications from running on your system or your desktop and you want to use Applocker, you need to have the Enterprise version. Direct access and branch cache. Both used for distributed computing environments. To enhance the access capability, to automate rather than using VPN, for instance, some of your remote connectivity or save yourself costs in terms of bandwidth for distributed data, some of those solutions Applocker, Direct Access, Branch Cache require the Enterprise version and are only supported in the Enterprise version of Windows 8.
If you want Windows to Go, a new feature with the ability to boot Windows 8 from a removable drive. So we're not talking just a VHD, we're talking the ability to have the entire image for Windows 8 installed on a removable drive, and probably not a small thumbdrive we're talking a larger jump drive, then you need the Enterprise version to support that capability. If you want remote FX, which is enhanced graphical support for the virtual environment, and virtualized support, remote access, then you need the Enterprise feature, and finally, if you want support for network file systems, FNS in particular, from your desktop, then you want to be able to have the Enterprise version of Windows 8.
So there's a kinda of our overview of the components to help you make that decision process, you need any of those Enterprise features, you've made the decision that you need to go all the way to the Enterprise version of Windows 8. So rather than having to go dig into a list or shopping cart and figure out what you want, this is the quick way to determine which version of Windows 8 is right for you.