HP accidentally reveals Windows 8 SKUs?

In an interesting turn of events, Windows 8 SKUs have appeared deep in some documentation on the HP website. The revision notes for the Alcor Micro Smart Card Reader Driver list, in between Windows 7 and Windows Vista, a stack of Windows 8 versions that could indicate Microsoft’s SKU plans for the operating system.

Microsoft Windows 8 32 Edition
Microsoft Windows 8 64 Edition
Microsoft Windows 8 Enterprise 32 Edition
Microsoft Windows 8 Enterprise 64 Edition
Microsoft Windows 8 Professional 32 Edition
Microsoft Windows 8 Professional 64 Edition

The references to these Windows 8 SKUs were discovered by Stephen Chapman of ZDnet on a seemingly unrelated research trail. Of course there are two possibilities for these SKUs being listed: either HP has insider information from Microsoft into the possible Windows 8 SKUs; or these are simply meaningless placeholders. HP has been working closely with Microsoft on Windows 8 so knowing the planned SKUs well before release is a possibility.

As Chapman rightly points out, if these are just placeholders for Windows 8 it is also interesting that HP has chosen to use a different set of SKUs from Windows 7. For those of you that remember, Windows 7 not only had an Enterprise and Professional SKU but a Home Basic, Home Premium, Ultimate and Starter SKU as well. Vista and XP differed again from this model.

The above editions are also only the client versions of Windows 8 for Intel x86 processors as we should also be seeing at least one x86-64 server SKU and one ARM client SKU. These versions may or may not have separate SKUs like those listed at the HP website, and understandably aren't going to be listed for a client-edition x86/64 driver.

Microsoft generally doesn’t announce their OS SKUs until much closer to the market release date, so we’ll take the listings from the HP website under advisement until we get a solid word from the Windows 8 team. Still, it just makes us more excited to try out the Windows 8 Consumer Preview in just a few days’ time.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

TechSpot: Gigabyte Radeon HD 7950 3072MB Review

Next Story

Zune and Windows Live brands killed from Windows 8

62 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

nice 75% off Win8 purchase when you prove you have a valid purchased key of Win7 would be nice.... otherwise I have no intentions on purchasing this.

It is considered good journalism to explain the acronyms you use. In this case you never state what "SKU" means. I know what it means, but there will be people who won't and they'll have to search for the term.

Qualdan said,
It is considered good journalism to explain the acronyms you use. In this case you never state what "SKU" means. I know what it means, but there will be people who won't and they'll have to search for the term.

I completely agree. Also, have you noticed how on the software section, how quite often, the reviewer assumes the read knows what the software is, and just dives right in to talking about it's newer features rather than a very brief opening paragraph, introducing what the product is.

Neowin needs to introduce some quality control on it's "unprofessional" (meaning "unpaid", not "unsophisticated") journalism.

I really hope this is genuine. Three editions, plus 32/64-bit variants, is easy to understand and makes sense.

Well these could also be the only SKUs Microsoft is gonna sell in that market. Let's not forget that Home Basic has been limited to "underdeveloped" markets and startet was always this ****** version that only was used as a replacement for XP on netbooks…

It could be that they only dropped the "Home Premium" tag from the version they expect about anyone to get. (Didn't they say at the release of Win7 that they expect about 99% of the people to buy Home Premium or Professional?)

They could easily drop that down to just one for the non-Server side. The installer should figure out if you can use the 64-bit version or not and other than that they could just cram the advanced features as optional install settings so those in corporate environments can install the extra stuff.

LaXu said,
They could easily drop that down to just one for the non-Server side. The installer should figure out if you can use the 64-bit version or not and other than that they could just cram the advanced features as optional install settings so those in corporate environments can install the extra stuff.

so you want windows on a blu-ray drive by default? As if it detects both 32 and 64bit for install. you either need 2 setups, or it has to compile on the spot. Doubt everyone has a blu-ray drive (I dont, and i actually don't know anyone who does except for PS3s.) or that MS is willing to make the install for win8 last longer then XP's install.

FrancoisC said,
No need for a blu ray, they could fit all 32/64 bit version of windows on a single dual-layer DVD.

It really doesn't even take that. I've seen some all-in-one install DVDs made for Windows 7 that were able to install either 32 or 64-bit from a single layer DVD. It all comes down to the fact that the vast majority of the stuff that gets installed are resource files that are the same between both versions.

Glad to see they simplified the number of SKUs. The general consumer didn't know the difference between the multiple Home versions in Windows 7.

brent3000 said,
I wish Windows would drop 32 bit -_-

I kind of agree, but every device running Windows 7 has to be able to run 8 as well.
Why is it that important, though? When you install 64 bit you won't get bothered with 32 bit , right?

brent3000 said,
I wish Windows would drop 32 bit -_-

I hope they don't. We have key readers at our BMW and Audi stores that only work on 32-bit, and Huf Tools (the manufacturer of both) have said they have no plans to support 64-bit versions of Windows for at least another 2 years.

brent3000 said,
I wish Windows would drop 32 bit -_-

MS wanted to move completely to 64bit with the release of WinXP. Dont blame MS now for still releasing 32bit OS's, blame the hardware manufactures for taking a decade to move from 32bit to 64bit.

MS started WinXP from scratch when they werent able to push the hardware manufactures to 64bit. As WinXP was planned to be a 64bit only OS.

I think that's exactly what Apple is doing with Mountain Lion, as from what I saw from a leaked "read me", 32bit kext (Their equivalent of drivers I think) will not work with the OS at all.

Granted, Microsoft is not Apple, but is there any 32bit only CPU still made today? Heck I think even Intel's latest Atom support 64bit...

Shadowzz said,

MS wanted to move completely to 64bit with the release of WinXP. Dont blame MS now for still releasing 32bit OS's, blame the hardware manufactures for taking a decade to move from 32bit to 64bit.

MS started WinXP from scratch when they werent able to push the hardware manufactures to 64bit. As WinXP was planned to be a 64bit only OS.


This is the second time you posted this nonsense. Where in the hell did you come up with that bull****? While that might have been true of Vista, it certainly wasn't true of XP.

It's amazing how many people don't understand what Enterprise is. Think Ultimate with different licensing for corporations/KMS/MAK. Dear gawd.

shockz said,
It's amazing how many people don't understand what Enterprise is. Think Ultimate with different licensing for corporations/KMS/MAK. Dear gawd.

True.

Go back and read the ARM post from two weeks ago and Steven Sinifsky never refers to Windows on ARM as Windows 8. They are distinct products from a PR (and likely future marketing) perspective. That was deliberate.

I expect at least two or three editions and there's nothing wrong with that. Anything more than 3 is too much though. Unlike Apple, Microsoft cannot have just one edition and expecting them to have just one edition also isn't right because Windows packs lots of consumer as well as enterprise features around Active Directory. Mac OS X is more consumer centric. And then Microsoft also wants to differentiate on budget and premium SKUs to give more choice and value. It should be Home, Professional and Enterprise or Basic, Premium and Ultimate. With two or three editions, Microsoft can cater to grandmas, Joe Average and power users without the one-size-fits-all approach.

If the above list is accurate (and i'm not saying that it is), why are Microsoft still shipping 32bit OS:es ? I thought pretty much every processor in existence these days, are 64bit?

darkthunder said,
If the above list is accurate (and i'm not saying that it is), why are Microsoft still shipping 32bit OS:es ? I thought pretty much every processor in existence these days, are 64bit?

They said Windows 8 will run on anything that can run Windows 7. They'd be lying if they removed 32 bit support.

I believe it also has something to do with virtualisation support - I seem to remember reading somewhere that it is possible to pack 32-bit Windows VMs far more densely than 64-bit. Though in that case it seems strange they don't maintain a 32-bit Server SKU (Server 2008 R2 is x64 only).

darkthunder said,
If the above list is accurate (and i'm not saying that it is), why are Microsoft still shipping 32bit OS:es ? I thought pretty much every processor in existence these days, are 64bit?

A lot of netbooks were sold that did not support x64, also there were a bunch of Celerons as well. That's a pretty big and recent market to leave behind. 32bit is also commonly used in virtualization.

singularity87 said,
I believe it also has something to do with virtualisation support - I seem to remember reading somewhere that it is possible to pack 32-bit Windows VMs far more densely than 64-bit. Though in that case it seems strange they don't maintain a 32-bit Server SKU (Server 2008 R2 is x64 only).

As the user above pointed out, this is because majority of Netbooks and low powered PC's (OEM PC's with early Pre-Conroe CPU's) didn't have x64 support, .x64 completely breaks 16bit backwards compatibility which is needed for businesses as well and a lot of applications that didn't run properly under WOW64 too.

I can see Windows 9 being the right time to stop 32bit support.

Enron said,

They said Windows 8 will run on anything that can run Windows 7. They'd be lying if they removed 32 bit support.


this and MS wanted to move completely to 64bit with the release of WinXP. Dont blame MS now for still releasing 32bit OS's, blame the hardware manufactures for taking a decade to move from 32bit to 64bit.

MS started WinXP from scratch when they werent able to push the hardware manufactures to 64bit. As WinXP was planned to be a 64bit only OS.

It looks like Microsoft is realizing a lot of PC's are powerful enough to run premium SKU's to not warrant the need for a Starter and Home Basic editions. I am from a developing country and majority of Windows based notebooks I see everybody using comes with Windows 7 Home Premium. Its possible the company is planning to make it the base standard:

- Windows 7 Home Edition (replaces Starter, Home Basic)
- Windows 7 Professional
- Windows 7 Enterprise (volume license)

Windows 7 Ultimate will be eliminated since the majority of users rarely need MUI's (which is available across all editions of Windows 8). Also, I rarely hear of users yearning for AppLocker, Domain Join which require Windows Server 2008 R2 anyway. Also, when I check persons computers that running Ultimate, it usually turns out to be a pirated copy using a activation exploit (OEM SLP ) key.

I do hope they bring BitLocker to Professional edition since I do use that on Windows 7 Ultimate.

Mr. Dee said,
It looks like Microsoft is realizing a lot of PC's are powerful enough to run premium SKU's to not warrant the need for a Starter and Home Basic editions.

It's not about powerful PCs. It's about people who want Windows, but don't have money for the full version. MS made Starter and Home Basic editions for these people, but it had to remove features, because they couldn'e sell the same product for different price.

Not having a separate Ultimate version would make a lot of sense since with Windows 7 there weren't that many differences between it and Professional and some of those now part of the core Windows 8 feature set (e.g. multiple language support).

KomaWeiss said,
You know you will be able to run 32bit on 64bit. So why have 32bit OS at all?

Because of the aforementioned legacy support, namely not all older processors are capable of 64 bit. There's still quite a few 32 bit processors in active use. They have absolutely nothing to gain by arbitrarily dropping support for a bunch of customers for no good reason, nor will dropping 32 bit do any good for those using 64 bits. What's the point?

Max Norris said,

Because of the aforementioned legacy support, namely not all older processors are capable of 64 bit. There's still quite a few 32 bit processors in active use. They have absolutely nothing to gain by arbitrarily dropping support for a bunch of customers for no good reason, nor will dropping 32 bit do any good for those using 64 bits. What's the point?

true but who runs windows 8 on a pc that isnt capable of something as trivial and old as 64bit. 64bit isnt some new tech and even the cheap walmart computers come with 64bit processors.

Colin McGregor said,

true but who runs windows 8 on a pc that isnt capable of something as trivial and old as 64bit. 64bit isnt some new tech and even the cheap walmart computers come with 64bit processors.


Yes, but my netbook from 3 years ago - which I still use - is only 32 bit.

Colin McGregor said,
true but who runs windows 8 on a pc that isnt capable of something as trivial and old as 64bit. 64bit isnt some new tech and even the cheap walmart computers come with 64bit processors.

True, but that doesn't magically update all those 32 bit systems that are already in use that are perfectly capable of running Windows 8. Shoot one of my old tablets is a dinosaur Celeron and it's passable with Windows 7, 8 will supposedly be even better. Friend of mine has a few Athlon XP's (32 bit) that are running 7 and 8DP. You see people all the time talking about their old systems they're stuck using at work. Why should they be thrown in the trash? Just because? There is no benefit to anyone by dropping it. It doesn't benefit you, and it certainly won't benefit Microsoft by losing potential sales. Again, whats the point?

Albert said,
i see they get rid of windows 8 nincompoop 32/64 edition. great.

Are you referring to 'Starter' ?
MS wouldn't get rid of it, HP probably doesn't have something built for the emerging markets where it needs to be offered.

Max Norris said,

True, but that doesn't magically update all those 32 bit systems that are already in use that are perfectly capable of running Windows 8. Shoot one of my old tablets is a dinosaur Celeron and it's passable with Windows 7, 8 will supposedly be even better. Friend of mine has a few Athlon XP's (32 bit) that are running 7 and 8DP. You see people all the time talking about their old systems they're stuck using at work. Why should they be thrown in the trash? Just because? There is no benefit to anyone by dropping it. It doesn't benefit you, and it certainly won't benefit Microsoft by losing potential sales. Again, whats the point?

^this.
and 16bit apps magically work on 64bit right? ohwait we rather waste resources on running it in a VM... or use the legacy Windows 8 32bit.

Enterprise and Professional are Server versions? If this is correct, Microsoft is finally taking the simplified approach to the client version, and the Windows Store will probably play a huge part in added features.

I just hope you don't have to "buy" the ability to login to a domain from the client version!

Neobond said,
Enterprise and Professional are Server versions? If this is correct, Microsoft is finally taking the simplified approach to the client version, and the Windows Store will probably play a huge part in added features.

I just hope you don't have to "buy" the ability to login to a domain from the client version!


No they are not. You have Enterprise and Professional with Windows 7 anyway. Enterprise edition includes all features, pretty much like ultimate. The product distinction was made in Vista where Ultimate was meant to be for tech enthusiasts. Professional is slightly cheaper and has less features.

Neobond said,
Enterprise and Professional are Server versions? If this is correct, Microsoft is finally taking the simplified approach to the client version, and the Windows Store will probably play a huge part in added features.

I just hope you don't have to "buy" the ability to login to a domain from the client version!


I think enterprice and professional are aimed on Work places , and that there will be server os named Windows 8 Server (wild guess )

Riva said,

Professional is slightly cheaper and has less features.

Really, the only features why I (and most other people) would get Ultimate over Pro would be the multiple language support and full disk encryption... and I require none of them so I stick with Pro.

Riva said,

No they are not. You have Enterprise and Professional with Windows 7 anyway. Enterprise edition includes all features, pretty much like ultimate.

I believe this is wrong. Enterprise and Professional are identical, except for their licensing methods. Professional is activated just like any retail copy, and Enterprise is activated via a KMS or MAK system.

xendrome said,

I believe this is wrong. Enterprise and Professional are identical, except for their licensing methods. Professional is activated just like any retail copy, and Enterprise is activated via a KMS or MAK system.


I think you confuse Professional with Ultimate if you are talking about Windows 7.
Enterprise = Ultimate != Professionsl. See http://windows.microsoft.com/compare?T1=tab01

RealFduch said,

I think you confuse Professional with Ultimate if you are talking about Windows 7.
Enterprise = Ultimate != Professionsl. See http://windows.microsoft.com/compare?T1=tab01

Enterprise is indented for corporations
Professional is indented for small business

that's good if they go back to xp like editions. eliminate 3 home editions (starter, basic and premium)

windows 8 would be for a home
windows 8 professional would be like windows xp professional
and windows 8 enterprise would be like windows xp corporate vl

but i hope they won't remove network abilities from home edition - home groups, network passwords manager, remote desktop

coth said,

that's good if they go back to xp like editions. eliminate 3 home editions (starter, basic and premium)

XP had a lot of different editions:
Starter, Home, Professional, TabletPC, MediaCenter, Professional x64 (yep that was a different SKU), XP 64bit (Itanium), Embedded (several different versions), Fundamentals,…