Microsoft announces SEVEN Windows 10 'editions', including 'Windows 10 Mobile'

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Somewhat unexpectedly, given the whole 'One Windows' mantra surrounding the 'Windows 10' name, Microsoft has volunteered details of how the OS will be broken down from a distribution and classification standpoint, announcing no less than seven (count 'em) 'editions'. All a bit confusing, I'll quote from the Windows blog below, to help explain...

Some selected snippets from the piece at the Windows blog:

Windows 10 is coming this summer in 190 countries and 111 languages. Today, we are excited to share more details on the Windows 10 Editions.

Introducing Windows 10 Editions

As in the past, we will offer different Windows editions that are tailored for various device families and uses. These different editions address specific needs of our various customers, from consumers to small businesses to the largest enterprises.

Windows 10 Home is the consumer-focused desktop edition. It offers a familiar and personal experience for PCs, tablets and 2-in-1s. Windows 10 Home will help people do great things, both big and small. With it, they will be more productive and have more fun thanks to a long list of new innovations: Cortana, the world’s most personal digital assistant; the new Microsoft Edge web browser; Continuum tablet mode for touch-capable devices; Windows Hello face-recognition, iris and fingerprint login; and right out of the box, a broad range of universal Windows apps like Photos, Maps, Mail, Calendar, Music and Video....

Windows 10 Mobile is designed to deliver the best user experience on smaller, mobile, touch-centric devices like smartphones and small tablets. It boasts the same, new universal Windows apps that are included in Windows 10 Home, as well as the new touch-optimized version of Office. Windows 10 Mobile offers great productivity, security and management capabilities for customers who use their personal devices at work. In addition, Windows 10 Mobile will enable some new devices to take advantage of Continuum for phone, so people can use their phone like a PC when connected to a larger screen.

Windows 10 Pro is a desktop edition for PCs, tablets and 2-in-1s. Building upon both the familiar and innovative features of Windows 10 Home, it has many extra features to meet the diverse needs of small businesses. Windows 10 Pro helps to effectively and efficiently manage their devices and apps, protect their sensitive business data, support remote and mobile productivity scenarios and take advantage of cloud technologies....

Windows 10 Enterprise builds on Windows 10 Pro, adding advanced features designed to meet the demands of medium and large sized organizations. It provides advanced capabilities to help protect against the ever-growing range of modern security threats targeted at devices, identities, applications and sensitive company information. Windows 10 Enterprise also supports the broadest range of options for operating system deployment and comprehensive device and app management. It will be available to our Volume Licensing customers, so they can take advantage of the latest innovation and security updates on an ongoing basis. At the same time, they will be able to choose the pace at which they adopt new technology, including the option to use the new Windows Update for Business. With Windows 10, Enterprise customers will also have access to the Long Term Servicing Branch as a deployment option for their mission critical devices and environments. 

Windows 10 Education builds on Windows 10 Enterprise, and is designed to meet the needs of schools – staff, administrators, teachers and students.

Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise is designed to deliver the best customer experience to business customers on smartphones and small tablets. It will be available to our Volume Licensing customers. It offers the great productivity, security and mobile device management capabilities that Windows 10 Mobile provides, and adds flexible ways for businesses to manage updates.

There will also be versions of Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise for industry devices like ATMs, retail point of sale, handheld terminals and industrial robotics and Windows 10 IoT Core for small footprint, low cost devices like gateways.

With so many 'editions', it's worth thinking about what is common - is there mileage in still thinking about 'One Windows'? Microsoft thinks so, pointing towards the common 'experience', i.e. the interface and applications, plus there's the common Store for applications. Though cynics will point out that the experience still varies according to the device you're running Windows 10 on, and that the Store is coded to only show applications tagged as compatible with your device or form factor.

As someone who's seen Microsoft go down the 'too many SKUs' route before, it's a little frustrating seeing the sheer number of 'editions' above. But at this stage, I think we have to trust that Microsoft knows what it's doing - the whole Insiders programme and free upgrade for all in the first year prove that there's new thinking at the company, after all.

For AAWP, the salient nugget here is probably that the name of the mobile SKU/edition is now confirmed as 'Windows 10 Mobile', though we'll be referring to 'Windows Phone' right up to the formal release of the new OS and the name of this site will remain the same - as in 'All about Windows for phones', covering any aspects of the Windows ecosystem that impact on mobile, as usual.

Comments welcome on Microsoft's edition splurge and on the new official name.