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.