Three versions of Microsoft’s Windows 8 OS

For those with Intel-compatible machines, the OS will be available in two versions – Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro. For those with devices, largely tablets, powered by ARM-designed chips there will be a Windows RT version.

Microsoft wants to simplify how it markets Windows 8, which is expected to launch in autumn 2012. The complex versions of previous Windows – from basic to home, premium to ultimate – have confused consumers.

Microsoft has called Windows 8 the most significant redesign of the Windows interface since its groundbreaking Windows 95 OS.

The ARM version of the OS is the newest edition and reflects Microsoft’s desire to unify the engine known for running desktop computers with that for tablets and smartphones. Windows RT will sit alongside Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems.

A preview version of Windows 8 launched late last year and more than 100,000 changes had been made since the developer version went public. For the first time since its inception, the trademark Windows “Start” button will no longer appear – instead being replaced by a sliding panel-based menu.

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