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Microsoft will offer three versions of Windows 8

Windows 8 to come in two x86 versions and one ARM version

Windows 8 will feature a new 'Metro' interface.
Windows 8 will feature a new 'Metro' interface.

Microsoft will release just three versions of its upcoming Windows 8.

The company has announced in a Windows blog post that there will only be three iterations of the operating system.

In the past, multiple versions of Windows have been available, with six different versions of Windows 7.

Writing on the Microsoft blog, Brandon LeBlanc, communications manager for Windows at Microsoft, explained: "We have talked about Windows 8 as Windows re-imagined, from the chipset to the user experience. This also applies to the editions available - we have worked to make it easier for customers to know what edition will work best for them when they purchase a new Windows 8 PC or upgrade their existing PC."

For x86 architectures, two versions will be available, Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro.

Windows 8 is aimed at the majority of consumers, and will include an updated Windows Explorer, Task Manager, better multi-monitor support and the ability to switch languages on the fly, although for a small number of emerging markets, there will be local-language only versions available.

Windows 8 Pro is designed for tech enthusiasts and technology professionals, and includes additional features such as encryption, virtualization, PC management and domain connectivity. Windows Media Center will be available as an economical media pack add-on to Windows 8 Pro.

Both versions will be available in 32 and 64 bit, and both can be upgraded from Windows 7, although Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate will only be upgradeable to Windows 8 Pro.

For devices based on ARM processors, the new Windows will be called Windows RT. Windows RT will only be available pre-installed on PCs and tablets, and will include touch-optimized desktop versions of the new Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.