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."