Analyst: Don't expect retail Ultimate version of Windows 8

A few hours ago, a leaked document from HP seemed to reveal that Microsoft planned to offer just three versions of its x86 version of Windows 8: regular, Enterprise and Professional. While Microsoft has yet to confirm or deny this report, an analyst from The NPD Group is predicting that Microsoft will not bother with an Ultimate version of Windows 8.

Computerworld.com reports that according to NPD's Stephen Baker, sales of Windows 7 Ultimate were small compared to the Home Premium and Professional versions of the OS. As a result, the new Windows 8 SKU list may show that Microsoft will not bother offering an Ultimate version of Windows 8 to the public.

It's still possible that Microsoft could produce an OS that might be the equivalent to Windows 8 Ultimate. However, Baker says he expects that if Microsoft does offer such a SKU, it won't be sold as a separate box product. It might be released as a version that would be pre-installed on high end PCs, such as gaming rigs.

Microsoft will almost certainly offer owners of previous versions of Windows a way to upgrade to Windows 8 when it is released. However, Baker says he doesn't believe Microsoft will follow the lead of Apple, who announced earlier this month that the upcoming Mountain Lion version of OS X would only be available to previous Mac owners via download and not in a retail box version.

Baker states, "The [Windows] ecosystem is very different from Apple's, so no, I don't think they would go to that extent."

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49 Comments

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How bout mentioning why people should care ?
And i mean that by pointing out Microsft's grey area with the sku features
Going back to xp home vs pro, its always been a sketchy grey area to figure out whats goin on..

MS, just drop all the bloody sku crap and sell one version called windows.
k thx bye

One of the reasons I am on Ultimate is because I touch base on all windows features; IIS 7.x all feature stack, join my local domain, BitLocker, Media Center etc... I hope Enterprise will offer this if Ultimate goes away.

Riva said,
One of the reasons I am on Ultimate is because I touch base on all windows features; IIS 7.x all feature stack, join my local domain, BitLocker, Media Center etc... I hope Enterprise will offer this if Ultimate goes away.

They should just replace Professional with Ultimate, it makes more sense than having two high-end SKUs

Riva said,
One of the reasons I am on Ultimate is because I touch base on all windows features; IIS 7.x all feature stack, join my local domain, BitLocker, Media Center etc... I hope Enterprise will offer this if Ultimate goes away.

With exception to BitLocker, all those features you mentioned are in Windows 7 Professional.

I don't get why Microsoft classes BitLocker as an enterprise feature. A lot of home users would find it useful, particularly for USB flash drives.

Ace said,
I don't get why Microsoft classes BitLocker as an enterprise feature. A lot of home users would find it useful, particularly for USB flash drives.

Or multi-monitor remote desktop. Should be in Professional (which can do multimon as an RDP client, but only span as a server).

Or maybe Microsoft figures that most multimon users are developers, and they have access to MSDN anyway, so they'd be running Ultimate

Many businesses aren't going to touch Windows 8 anyway. Metro makes it clear that this is primarily a consumer OS, with little to attract businesses except those who produce tablet software.

Hell, many are still on XP and only just now moving to Windows 7. It takes the corporate world a long time to change and they regularly skip Windows releases.

FloatingFatMan said,
Many businesses aren't going to touch Windows 8 anyway. Metro makes it clear that this is primarily a consumer OS, with little to attract businesses except those who produce tablet software.

Hell, many are still on XP and only just now moving to Windows 7. It takes the corporate world a long time to change and they regularly skip Windows releases.

metro won't go away in later release of windows

maybe businesses would wait this time 20 years (till there PCs die )

Metro, WPF, Silverlight & HTML5. All great technologies for the home user, but when it comes down to software that businesses run on, WinForms still is the most functional and usable of them all.

I work for a company that writes software for the paper manufacturing industry. Anything other than WinForms is just pretty eyecandy and that's totally NOT what corporations need or even want in the software their businesses run on.

Maybe in the future that might change, but not now. Not yet.

FloatingFatMan said,
Many businesses aren't going to touch Windows 8 anyway. Metro makes it clear that this is primarily a consumer OS, with little to attract businesses except those who produce tablet software.

Hell, many are still on XP and only just now moving to Windows 7. It takes the corporate world a long time to change and they regularly skip Windows releases.

Windows 8 is a consumer focused release, but will still eventually replace Windows 7, if not immediately. Microsoft has stated from an enterprise prespective, Windows 7 and Windows 8 will be identical. So those in the process or planning to deploy Windows 7 is recommended to do so and not wait for Windows 8. When Windows 8 is sold to enterprise their existing apps will run as they did so on previous versions of Windows. The only difference from the user persepective will be new Start screen if they don't allow IT mangers to disable it and obviously the Explorer tweaks and optimizations.

lunarworks said,
How about TWO versions of Windows 8?

Normal and Server.

Nah, can't gouge that way.

I'd like, Home, Enterprise, Server.

I just think they need to drop Ultimate altogether. Home, Pro, Enterprise... even then that's more than enough.

You know what else I think Microsoft might also do, eliminate upgrade versions. Follow the path of Office and just have full versions. They should make the standard base Home license be 3 licenses by default, this would make it an enticing upgrade. I am sure they want as many persons upgrading to it as possible, since a lot of businesses will not be leaving Windows 7 anytime soon for Windows 8.

I said it in a previous comment on the post about the leaked SKU's. Nobody really bought this SKU, only a small group of enthusiast who must have it all. Most of the computers I saw it on were actually running pirated copies from MSDN (you can know this by the PID) or OEM SLP copies that too were detected by activation technologies.

Well if they try to force a single consumer version it better be feature complete. Meaning it needs to have bitlocker, rdp, and any other administrative tools working like local security policy... Etc. Windows 7 home premium does not have these things forcing you to run ultimate edition if you want them.

Ultimate Edition made little sense in Windows 7 when Professional became a true superset of Home Premium functionality (Vista business lacked Media Center among other things) so hopefully they'll just kill it outright.

In fact, I hope they also get rid of the "Home Premium" moniker too, because rarely do normal consumers need the features of the Professional SKU.

dagamer34 said,
Ultimate Edition made little sense in Windows 7 when Professional became a true superset of Home Premium functionality (Vista business lacked Media Center among other things) so hopefully they'll just kill it outright.

In fact, I hope they also get rid of the "Home Premium" moniker too, because rarely do normal consumers need the features of the Professional SKU.

Windows 7 Ultimate is the retail version of Enterprise, which is only sold through volume licensing from Microsoft. Professional still lacks some features of Ultimate like BitLocker Drive Encryption and Unix application support. Vista Business is equivilent to Windows 7 Professional, which some users will still need.

Windows 7 Home Premium lack many features of Professional, like you say it should.

wixostrix said,

Professional still lacks some features of Ultimate like BitLocker Drive Encryption and Unix application support.

And while obviously things could have changed, at BUILD last year, Microsoft said Hyper-V 3.0 would only be in Windows Ultimate, Enterprise, and Server.

Kaedrin said,

And while obviously things could have changed, at BUILD last year, Microsoft said Hyper-V 3.0 would only be in Windows Ultimate, Enterprise, and Server.

I did not know that. Thanks

wixostrix said,

I did not know that. Thanks

Yup. Just the Client install of Hyper-V 3 requires SLAT (Intel EPT / AMD RVI) because RemoteFX support is really required for high performance video / 3d. SLAT is still optional in Server.

Kaedrin said,

Yup. Just the Client install of Hyper-V 3 requires SLAT (Intel EPT / AMD RVI) because RemoteFX support is really required for high performance video / 3d. SLAT is still optional in Server.

High-performance graphics drivers would require SLAT even if RemoteFX is not used. Specifically, the management OS is allowed to access the hardware natively (well, virtualized).

Of course, if you just ran the management OS, then it would be kind of pointless to have Hyper-V. And that's where RemoteFX comes in -- for the other Windows OSes that you're running in addition to the management OS.

makes sense. They should really just make one to be honest. same with office. Just make a single office suite, LEt people choose what apps to install and price it good.

calimike said,
what about Windows 8 Starter, Windows 8 N and Windows 8 KN?

Windows Starter Edition are not sold retail. N and KN versions will likely be available.

Why can't Microsoft simply have like two (Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro/Enterprise) or three (Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro/Enterprise, Windows 8 Server) versions?

einsteinbqat said,
Why can't Microsoft simply have like two (Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro/Enterprise) or three (Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro/Enterprise, Windows 8 Server) versions?

Because Microsoft caters to a huge demographic with varying needs. It's all explained here: http://bit.ly/wikiwin7edts

Not surprised really, you can tell that Microsoft was slowly trying to get rid of the SKU. They dropped Ult Extras and never spoke about it, and it wasn't on shelves as much as Vista Ult was.

shiny_red_cobra said,
Why are they still making x86 versions??? I thought Windows 7 would be the last version of Windows to be offered for 32-bit platforms.

I'm pretty sure it's only dip****s that keep droning on and moaning about 32 bit support.
If you didn't know, no mass-produced 64 bit ARM chip has been made as of yet, and they've just made the move to ARM.

shiny_red_cobra said,
Why are they still making x86 versions??? I thought Windows 7 would be the last version of Windows to be offered for 32-bit platforms.

Because there are some people who use it. It's not like it affects you in any way.

n_K said,

I'm pretty sure it's only dip****s that keep droning on and moaning about 32 bit support.
If you didn't know, no mass-produced 64 bit ARM chip has been made as of yet, and they've just made the move to ARM.

Do similar dip****s also know that x86 architecture (whether it's 16, 32, or 64 bit) has nothing to do with ARM anyway?

pj_fry said,

Do similar dip****s also know that x86 architecture (whether it's 16, 32, or 64 bit) has nothing to do with ARM anyway?

Priceless

pj_fry said,
Do similar dip****s also know that x86 architecture (whether it's 16, 32, or 64 bit) has nothing to do with ARM anyway?

Except it's the exact same memory addressing width, which in this case is 32 bit.
My point wasn't ARM or x86 being similar, it was that people bitch about 'oh drop 32 bit support' but don't seem to care that their phones, tablets, and everything else is all running on 32 bit processors, which will enjoy the same problem of the unix timestamp wrap-around problem.

Adamb10 said,
They said the same exact thing about Windows 7 ultimate too, being limited to OEM's and stuff.

Indeed. And all they did was make it a paid online downloaded upgrade.

Yeah.. I don't think they're going to have an "Ultimate" version, but only have it available via pre-installed high-end machines.. How are these high-end machines going to get it? If any machine has it, there will be a retail version of it.

itsthenewDC said,
Yeah.. I don't think they're going to have an "Ultimate" version, but only have it available via pre-installed high-end machines.. How are these high-end machines going to get it? If any machine has it, there will be a retail version of it.

They could offer it to MSDN subscribers.

Shadowzz said,

or OEM versions.

Which, in both cases, means that it will be leaked pretty fast to the internet. If you're going to use it or not depends only on you.