Windows 8 is not for everyone. Should you upgrade, or should you stick with Windows 7? Here are 10 reasons to stay with 7, 10 reasons to take the leap to 8.
Ten reasons to avoid Windows 8
- The learning curve. Windows 8 is an entirely new experience. There’s no gentle learning curve, so you’ll need to spend time becoming acquainted.
- Bugs. The usual advice is ‘never buy version 1.0 of an operating system’ and for good reason. New operating systems get their most thorough testing after they’re released to the general public, so early adopters are the crash test dummies for the system.
- Schizophrenia. Windows 8 is not one operating system but two cobbled together. The new tiles and the old desktop are distinctly different and nowhere is this more evident than when you use Windows 8 on a tablet or other touch-enabled device. There’s a reason why Windows 8 comes with two versions of Internet Explorer: because the operating itself has a split personality.
- Touch. Touch on a tablet is a joy; Touch on a desktop is a nightmare. Many reviewers of Windows 8 have observed that you can get used to touch on a desktop (if you have a touchscreen monitor, of course) and may even grow to like it. That may be true, but your body will never forgive you. Touch gestures on a desktop are an ergonomic catastrophe.
- Dumb apps. Apps are not full-blown programs. They’re designed to be downloadable, quickly installable, quick to develop. They’re no match for desktop heavyweight applications. Even the best ‘Office’ app on the iPhone, for example, provides just a fraction of the power of Microsoft Office. The same is bound to apply to apps from the Windows Store.
- No hierarchy. The tiled interface of Windows 8 gives each program the same priority and even insignificant apps get to hog screen space. Folder hierarchies are a useful, compact way to organize files and programs.
- Edgeless windows. Windows 8’s new look flattens everything—tiles, windows, other interface elements. It’s supposed to look hip and modern, but it makes it hard to find the edge of a window and, within applications, hard to find the edge of menus and icons. If your eyesight is less than 20/20, you’re likely to find it harder to manipulate things on the screen without accidentally clicking neighboring items.
- Hidden stuff. If you want to fiddle with settings and options in Windows 8, you’ll need to dig because settings are scattered between the Settings charm and various desktop windows. Controls are hidden, too—partly because the focus is on tapping and swiping. So instead of, say, an obvious Start button to click, you have to mouse around into corners and edges, or drag down or up to uncover various controls and views.
- Cut-down RT. Windows RT, the affordable version of Windows that runs on the Surface RT and other ARM-based devices, cannot run traditional Windows programs. You’ll need to buy new apps and you won’t be able to leverage your previous Windows experience.
- The jury is still out. All new versions of Windows attract some criticism, but the criticism of Windows 8 has been louder and more vocal than usual. That’s partly because it’s a big change from Windows 7, but it may also be because Windows 8’s schizoid nature truly is a fatal flaw. So far, retail sales have been slow. If that trend persists and the criticism, too, Windows 8 may have a short life span.
Ten reasons to dump Windows 7
- Speed. Windows 8 boots around twice as fast as Windows 7. It’s faster multi-tasking, faster to close down, and provides a faster response all round.
- Synchronization. Via your Microsoft account, you can sync not only files and data but also your settings across different computers and devices. SkyDrive, which is integrated into the operating system, is central to this synchronization, while also providing central storage for all your apps.
- Sociability. Windows 8 is socially savvy, with support for Facebook, Twitter, Skype and a variety of other social apps threaded through the operating system.
- Touch. There’s no doubt that on a portable device, touch is a far more intuitive way to interact than via mouse and keyboard.
- Security. Windows 8 is Microsoft’ most secure operating system to date and that security applies to both the operating system and to the built-in web browser, Internet Explorer 10. Features such as Secure Boot, Trusted Boot and built-in anti-virus software make for a safer operating environment than Windows 7.
- Live data. Windows 7 is a passive operating system; Windows 8 is active. Its tiles are live, displaying email, appointments, news, weather, tweets, Facebook posts and so on in a lively stream.
- Easy recovery. Push Button Reset lets you create a fresh install of Windows 8 at the press of a button, with the option to wipe secure data prior to the install—perfect for when you’re going to sell or donate your computer. Then there’s Refresh: a simple way to reinstall Windows while keeping your personal files and data and apps (although you’ll need to reinstall traditional applications).
- Miserliness. Windows 8 requires less power, provides longer battery life and is available, in its RT form, on cheap hardware. For a remarkably small outlay, you can get yourself a Windows 8 tablet and run a cut-down version of Microsoft Office.
- Apps. Although the Windows Store is underdeveloped right now, if Windows 8 becomes popular expect to see lots of app development, with cool utilities, games, productivity apps and other software available in the Store and only in the Store.
- The little things. As with every Microsoft operating system update, Windows 8 sports hundreds of small, under-the-surface improvements that don’t get talked about a lot but make computing life easier and richer. Some of those improvements are simplified printing, better search, smarter copying and moving of files, a standardized ribbon interface in core programs, and support for modern technologies such as USB 3.0.