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Microsoft to release four editions of Windows 8

Windows 8 Start screen
Screenshot by Ed Rhee/CNET

Updated 1:43 p.m. ET

(CBS News) Microsoft confirmed its next operating system is officially called Windows 8 and will come in four editions.

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The four editions of Microsoft's new operating system are Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, Windows 8 RT and Windows 8 Enterprise. In comparison, there are currently six editions of Windows 7: Home Premium, Enterprise, Ultimate, Professional, Starter, and Home Basic.

Windows 8 and Window 8 Pro are for x86-64 computers and tablets, running on AMD64 or Intel 64 chips. Features of the new operating system include mail and calendar apps,  Internet Explorer 10 and the option to switch between touch screen, keyboard or mouse.

Take note that upgrades for Windows 8 are available from Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic and Home Premium. Windows 8 Pro users can upgrade from Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate.

Windows RT is for computers and tablets running on the ARM processor. This is a brand new addition to the Windows family, so no upgrade is available and you can't purchase the software separately. Windows RT is expected to only be available pre-installed on computers and tablets.

Windows Enterprise is the final edition of the new operating system. This version of Windows is expected to have all features of Windows 8, "plus features for IT organization that enable PC management and deployment, advanced security, virtualization, new mobility scenarios, and much more."

Microsoft has yet to confirm a release date for Windows 8, however, a consumer preview is available. Previous rumors placed the operating system's release date around October 2012. Full details of WIndows 8 features can be found at the Microsoft website.

As far as a Windows 8 release date goes, a Microsoft spokesperson told CBS News there was "nothing to share on timing."