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The Redmond, Wash., company announced the naming scheme in an official blog post. Communications manager Brandon LeBlanc indicated that all three of the editions would "offer a no-compromise experience."
"Windows 8 is the official product name for the next x86/64 editions of Windows," LeBlanc wrote. "For many consumers, Windows 8 will be the right choice."
The Pro edition includes all the features of Windows 8 as well as "encryption, virtualization, PC management and domain connectivity." A "media pack" add-on to Windows 8 Pro will add Windows Media Center functionality. LeBlanc recommends that enthusiasts and customers looking to use their PCs in a "business environment" consider the professional version.
Windows 8 Consumer Preview. | Source: Microsoft
The third version of Windows 8, dubbed Windows RT, will be the company's port to the ARM architecture.
"This single edition will only be available pre-installed on PCs and tablets powered by ARM processors and will help enable new thin and lightweight form factors with impressive battery life," the post read.
Windows RT will include touch-optimized desktop versions of Microsoft Office applications, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. The OS will also not include Windows Media Player.
As previously noted, the ARM-based version of Windows will not support installation of x86/64 and desktop software. Instead, Microsoft intends for developers to focus on WinRT, the new Windows runtime that will form "the foundation of a new generation of cloud-enabled, touch-enabled, web-connected apps of all kinds."
LeBlanc promised to reveal details on Windows 8 pricing, as well as limited-time programs and promotions for customers, in "the coming months." Recent reports have suggested that Microsoft is aiming for an October launch of its new operating system. The first Windows 8 tablets are also expected to arrive early this fall.
Meanwhile, Apple is readying its own desktop operating system upgrade for release later this year. OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion is scheduled to arrive in the summer and will pack over 100 new features.