What’s the difference between the Windows 8 Pro, VL and N versions?

Windows 8 Pro

If you count all the Windows 8 32bit and 64 bit versions along with the Pro and Enterprise editions, there ends up being a dizzying array of versions.

This is confusing, especially as you’re considering which version to buy based on offered features.

The VL means Volume License which means a single copy can be activated multiple times with a unique key.  Usually, Windows 8 Enterprise is sold under the VL type but it’s not impossible for Windows 8 Pro to share the same designation.

The N means Windows doesn’t have Windows Media Player so you’ll need to buy it separately if you want it.  But, to be honest, with free players like VLC player that supports almost every codec known to man, it doesn’t make sense to purchase Windows 8 Pro N just to get Windows Media Player.

This is how the Windows 8 version break down:

  • Windows RT
  • Windows 8
  • Windows 8 Pro
  • Windows 8 Enterprise

Windows RT is installed on the Microsoft Surface tablet.  Since it’s built for tablets it doesn’t have all the features of the other Windows editions.  For example, it only has a partial desktop, only supports Windows Store Apps, doesn’t come with Windows Media Player and can’t join a corporate domain.  On the positive side, Surface does comes bundled with Microsoft Office and despite a $900 million dollar write down on the tablet, Microsoft is allegedly working on a faster, sleeker Surface tablet called the Surface 2.

Windows 8, without any suffixes, is what most people have in mind when considering Windows 8.  This is what’s known as the Core or Basic edition of Windows and is aimed at the home market.  The majority of consumers will purchase Windows 8 Core..  Unless you’re buying Windows 8 for your company or prefer the Surface tablet, you’ll want this version of Windows.  The upgrade is currently $119.99 USD.

Windows 8 Pro is analogous to Windows 7 Pro and Ultimate.  Businesses and gadget geeks will buy this edition so they can use integrated features such as Remote Desktop, Group Policy and BitLocker,

Windows 8 Enterprise is geared toward businesses like Pro but also contains extra features such as BranchCache and Windows To Go  to help IT departments organize their Microsoft assets.

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13 comments on “What’s the difference between the Windows 8 Pro, VL and N versions?
  1. Dakhamat Mohammad says:

    Thank’s
    I have a desktop HP Compaq dc7900 with this spaces:
    wich version run perfecly on my pc

  2. Snazzy Snook says:

    Doesn’t even make sense, in one sentence you say: The N means Windows doesn’t have Windows Media Player so you’ll need to buy it separately if you want it. Then in the following sentence you say :But, to be honest, with free players like VLC player that supports almost every codec known to man, it doesn’t make sense to purchase Windows 8 Pro N just to get Windows Media Player.
    Now I ask does that make sense at all ? Does N have or not have the damn media player ?

    • SharePirate says:

      obviously the person writing the article is either of this one: drunk; got a messed up thoughts; and doesnt know a proper grammar :)

    • David says:

      He’s saying with free players out there, it doesn’t make sense to buy the N version if you are going to buy windows media player later. Maybe if he/she put “then” before “get windows media player” it would make sense but the point is if you want media player, you probably should just buy the regular version of it instead of the n version.

  3. Andrew Stephens says:

    Can someone clarify what is meant by “The VL means Volume License which means a single copy can be activated multiple times with a unique key”?
    Does it mean that a single VL product key can be used to activate multiple installations of this edition of Win8?

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  1. […] second Christmas gift is the second most popular article of 2013.  In “What’s the difference between the Windows 8 Pro, VL and N versions” I made a few distinctions between the assorted Windows versions out there.  Microsoft has […]

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