Thursday, November 01, 2012

Should I buy Windows 8?

Every second version of Windows is a turkey and everything I have heard about Windows 8 suggests that it is no exception to this rule after the success of Windows 7. Normally I would be content to wait for the inevitably better replacement just as I did with 95, Me and Vista but my wife is in dire need of a computer upgrade. She is currently running hand me downs from my old gaming rigs: a 2005 era processor that is driving a 2002 install of Windows XP. While this is still fine for internet browsing and the odd game of Bejeweled my wife's growing photography hobby has turned her into a power user. That ageing rig has 3 terrabytes of picture laden hard disks hanging off it and image processing applications like Photoshop are serious resource hogs.

So what to do? Easiest thing is probably to ignore the shiny new Windows 8 machines being trotted out this week and look for a bargain on Windows 7. It feels somewhat wrong to spend new money on last years technology but Windows 7 is a very good operating system. In my opinion the best Microsoft ever made.

Then there is the bigger picture that many analysts are predicting the end of Windows and even the end of desktop computing altogether. I do buy the argument that the many people no longer need a desktop computer and that tablets and mobile devices will soon displace desktops in many areas. I don't believe they will displace the desktop any time soon in the majority of business or power user applications. Even if desktops are currently in decline I suspect it will be at least a decade before they are fully ousted from their current position of dominance and by that stage who knows what esoteric technologies we will be considering instead.

I should in fairness point out that my photo taking, latte drinking, Iphone carrying wife would be very happy to switch to an Apple desktop machine despite my personal loathing of Apple. Price wise this just doesn't make sense (thankfully). The entry level iMac costs €1,400 while an equivalent Windows machine is less than half of that.  On top of that we have a significant investment in Windows software that probably wouldn't transfer over. There is also a question of longevity. As the family IT guy I am confident in my ability to carefully upgrade a Windows machine and keep it running well for many years but I doubt I would be able to do that with a Mac.


Stropp said...

I have just installed Win8 yesterday. Late yesterday afternoon my five year old WinXP dell lost the harddrive (I was wondering when it was going to happen, and had backups).

I decided that maybe this was a good time to upgrade to 8 since the price is so low and bought a new HD and Win8 Pro.

Rather than reinstalling XP as I was supposed to, I decided to just do a clean install. This worked but caused a problem activating afterwards. There is a workaround on MS forums that activated it, and you can also upgrade over the fresh install to allow it to activate properly too.

As for usage, it's not so bad. I work and play on the desktop, so I have cleared the start screen and uninstalled all the bing and bloat crap. It now looks like a Win7 desktop without aero (which was a bit wanky anyway) and without the start button.

It takes a little getting used too, but I wont be using gestures anyway since I'm not using the metro interface.

So far all my software works, but I haven't installed any games yet.

You may as well give it a go since the low cost of the pro upgrade, it cost me $48 aussie dollars, will probably beat the cost of Win7 for a while yet. MS aren't going to do Win7 sales when they want Win8 to be widely adopted.

If you hate it you can always downgrade, or use stardocks Start8 product.

Hope this helps.

mbp said...

I hadn't realised that it was cheaper to upgrade to Windows 8 than Windows 7. That has certainly given me something to think about, thanks Stropp.

Cap'n John said...

We recently bought my daughter a new laptop at Fry's, and for just $15 we could have upgraded from Win7 to Win8. To me, that looks like Microsoft are so desperate to make Win8 a success that they're prepared to almost give it away just to increase the number of units "sold".

Woah. I inherited my daughter's old PC so I'm still in the market for a new PC for myself. I just saw a PC on Fry's website which comes with a free upgrade to Win8. Not $15. Free.

It really looks like Microsoft are desperate to maintain their stranglehold on the home PC market.

mbp said...

I guess Microsoft's business model is changing. They want to make money selling Apps in the new Microsoft store so they are happy to give the operating system away for very low cost.

mbp said...

Actually - confession time. I checked out the upgrade offers and apparently any old XP, Vista or 7 install can be upgraded to Windows 8 for low cost until January. For one mad moment I thought about digging out an old copy of XP I have and using to bag a version of Window 8. I don't even want the operating system but I am a sucker for a download bargain. I blame Steam.