Ok I know I haven’t written in ages but I’ve had a ton of questions about this, so I want to give my opinion on it…especially since it will go against what you may hear from most of your techie friends. .
On October 26, Microsoft launched the latest edition of its Windows operating system, simply called…8. Now if it seems like it wasn’t that long ago that Windows 7 was released, you’d be right…in real life terms…but in computer terms its been ages. Since Windows 7 was released, we’ve seen mobile computing take off like a rocket and a new corporate tech term emerge…BYOD (Bring your own device). This led Microsoft to come out with a radically (and I mean RADICALLY) different version of windows designed to handle the new era of mobile and touch screen technology. The trick for Microsoft is that while they virtually own the desktop computer market, they are WAY behind when it comes to smart phones and tablets. So they have decided to leverage their desktop dominance by creating a version of windows that is virtually seamless across all devices.
Thus, the most common question I’ve been getting of late is either “what do I think of the new Windows?” or “should I upgrade to it?”
Short answer? If you have a relatively current PC (say 3 years or younger) running Windows 7, then its simple. Don’t go near it with a 10 foot pole no matter what deals you see offered. Windows 7 is by far one of the most stable and capable operating systems that MS has ever put out…and to me and my actually professional opinion, I think MS has shot their load on moving on WAY too soon.
There are still a huge number of users on the ancient, yet well known, Windows XP. Home users, in particular, are very hesitant on change, even to something like Windows 7 which was really just an evolutionary change from XP. Your skills in XP still applied to Win 7 and in general it wasn’t too hard for a user to get to know it and switch over. The same cannot be said of Windows 8. More on that in a bit.
From a business perspective it gets a bit more complex. Large scale corporate installs will actually have an easier time transitioning to the new version, since they tend to have IT departments that have been testing and prepping for it since the spring. I don’t deal with companies at that size though, I deal with small to mid-size businesses where I am their IT and they can’t afford the R&D to prep for this. What Microsoft, and many tech writers and bloggers, seem to forget is the smaller business user. Many of these users, whether they be dentists and orthodontits or optometrists or accountants, have custom software that they use every day for their most vital work. For many of these users, they only got the Windows 7 version of their software within the past year.
Yes, just within the last year. They can’t afford to look at the turnaround for a new version of Windows and then the possible hassles that their software may have working with it. No matter what MS promises in backward compatibility NEVER quite works out. We have a ton of clients still on Windows XP precisely because they can’t get versions of programs that work with Windows 7. So what is there motivation to upgrade to a new OS that is HUGELY different than what they are used to working with.
The big problem that everyone is going to have will come in a few months when Microsoft begins to force their providers to stop shipping Windows 7 on new computers and go with Windows 8 only. So what does a user do? Well the answer isn’t that hard really.
If you are a home user, with a relatively new PC (as I mentioned) that is already running Windows 7, then I would stand pat. The OS is going to be supported for years to come and your hardware is new enough to last quite sometime. If you need an upgrade, then perhaps some more memory or an SSD hard drive will do (trust me SSD is just remarkable, ask me about that if you wish). Now if you have an older system running Windows XP? I would HIGHLY recommend you put aside some Christmas money and do an upgrade ASAP. XP is going out of support sooner than I am comfortable with and its time to move on from that ancient beast. You can still get Win 7 and it is going to be a much easier transition that Win 8 will be.
If you are a business user? The answer is quite similar. Set aside some end of year budget and do your upgrades before the end of 2012. If you use any kind of custom software then check with the provider for their plans to support Windows 8 (and be sure to ask about 64 bit support vs 32 bit support).
So what makes Windows 8 so different? Do yourself a favor and go check the official website at: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-CA/windows-8/meet
Yes its a complete marketing hose job, but the most important thing is seeing the change to the interface. Its goes from the traditional Start menu driven desktop to a new and more touch screen friendly tiled version. It’s very interesting and innovative…but its also VERY different. There is a way to still use the old style Start menu interface but its still not quite the same.
All that being said I am VERY excited about the new Windows 8 phones and tablets, and the potential for a seamless experience across all devices…in a few years time.
My plans? I intend to upgrade my office PC asap to Win 8 so I can get more comfortable with it and test it in a fully networked environment. My home machine. Not a chance for at least a year. I’ll let others shake it down for the bugs and the glitches and the inevitable issues that will arise. My home PC is stable and works really well with a 240GB SSD drive ready as my last upgrade to it.
For the moment…unless you really know what you are doing and love to be ahead of the curve, I’d stand pat and not worry about Windows 8. As usual, give it at least 6 months to shake out…and talk to me then. Trust me there are a lot more issues to discuss (don’t get me started on the Windows App Marketplace and what that does to third party app programs like Steam).
Hope that helps and I look forward to hearing your questions and thoughts.