Microsoft will launch their new operating system, Windows 8, today and make it generally available tomorrow -- 26 October 2012.

There are four versions of the operating system and it is worth taking a moment to consider the limitations of each.

Windows RT

This is the version predominately aimed at tablet devices, with is 'block style' user interface, perfect for touch screens. RT runs on the ARM chip and will only ship to hardware manufacturers.  General users can not download or purchase the version independently of a device.  The crucial restriction of Windows RT is software availability.  RT can only run the pre-installed version of MS Office 2013 (Word, Excel, Power Point, One Note) and Internet Explorer 10.   Additional RT specific applications can be downloaded from the Windows store; RT will NOT run normal Windows applications.

Windows 8

Aimed at the home user, this is a more traditional Windows operating system and desktop, but with the 'block'  interface too (previously known as Metro but the name was dropped).  It  runs on 32 or 64bit Intel based chips and aims to run Windows 8/7/Vista compatible applications of your choice.  Window 8 can also access the Windows Apps store.

Windows 8 Pro

As per Windows 8, but with features specifically for the corporate environment including encryption and domain specific control.

Windows 8 Enterprise

As per Windows 8 Pro but for the Enterprise with additional features.  Only available via volume licensing.

By far the biggest message to take, and share, from the above is that Window RT will NOT run your windows applications.  I sense some people may be disappointed with their purchase through lack of understanding.  In time developers will produce RT specific Apps via the Windows store -- a version of Skype and Google Search have both appeared.

If you are thinking of purchasing a Surface, again watch the version.  There will be a Surface RT with all the limitations of Windows 8 RT and a Surface Pro (no launch date for this yet) running a fuller Windows 8 Pro release.

Enjoy Windows 8 safely :-)

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