The goal is to give the Windows platform as much potential for programmability and customization as Linux distributions.
Windows 8 Enterprise
Pre-release criticisms have focused around a number of changes that appear to alter the character of Windows-as-we-know-it. We don't think so. Windows 8 has a new user-interface, but the changes are no more radical than those we've seen from Apple, Canonical, and others. Microsoft is trying to get unstuck from the success of Windows XP; and the new user interface -- once apps are built -- might just do it.
There are more differences than limitations, and there are just three different versions of Windows 8 to choose from, Home, Professional, and Enterprise. Each edition gradient has differing feature sets, and Enterprise is differentiated by its ability to be activated via Windows 2012 Key Management Services that can dole activation keys as needed.
Professional/Enterprise can be considered the analog to Windows 7 Ultimate; these replace up to nine different versions in Windows 7.
You get the Hyper-V hypervisor in Professional/Enterprise (we'll call it W8E) that's the same version shipped with Windows 2012 Server, and it replaces Windows Vista/Windows 7 Virtual PC to serve as a bare metal-type hypervisor.
Ostensibly, it's used to run a prior version that you upgraded from, like Windows XP, Vista, or Windows 7. You can have your old apps in other ways, too. You can host Windows 8 instances as VMs on Windows 2012 Hyper-V, VMware, or other hypervisors, too.
Microsoft's application virtualizer, App-V, has been upgraded and now has a physical-to-virtual feature, although we didn't test it. App-V V5 allows, like prior versions, a Remote FX-based GUI connection to an application that's executing someplace else. It appears as though the application launching, manipulation, and execution are happening locally, but these are actually communication broker stubs that link to the application on a server somewhere else.
Installation and Options
Microsoft Windows 8 wants to own the master boot record (MBR) on a system's hard drive, which some have objected to, but solutions that allow an alternate boot have already become available. The controversy regarding whether to prevent boot-sector virus vectors through the use of a UEFI secure boot (a BIOS replacement scheme) initially riled people who like to host concurrent operating system or disk partition instances. And we found that Windows 8 at installation, indeed grabs and will not eagerly let go the disk master boot, securing it, and making it very difficult to place other operating systems on it.