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IT Should you upgrade to Windows 8 or not

Forget what you’ve heard. Windows 8 improves upon Windows 7 – even if you don’t own a touchscreen. It is going where no operating system has gone before: combining a touch-friendly OS with the traditional PC desktop.

Even if you don’t own a tablet or touchscreen monitor, there are many compelling reasons to upgrade, but it is not for everyone. There are also definitely reasons to pass on Windows 8.

Here’s my favorite reasons to decide what’s best.

Pros

Cloud integration

Windows 8 is all about the cloud and it executes it well.

Microsoft has done a great job integrating all kinds of different services, like SkyDrive and various social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, into Windows 8. If you’ve previously linked all of your social networks to your Microsoft account, all you have to do is log in and all your accounts will be ready for you.

  • The Messages app will handle chats from Facebook, MSN, and more.
  • Your email will be synced immediately to the Mail app.
  • Photos from Facebook and Flickr will populate the Photos app.
  • The people app will pull information from Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to provide you updates for specific contacts.

Everything is simple and well integrated.

Office 2013 is also serious about the cloud. SkyDrive plays an important role in Windows 8, providing cloud storage and syncing. Your documents, preferences, and settings will all be synced between devices running Windows 8.

Performance improvements

Windows 8 offers a great performance boost over previous Windows versions. Windows 8 is fast. Boot times are especially quick when compared to Windows 7.

Microsoft said boot times on one device became 33% faster and memory usage reduced by 42% with Windows 8.

Having tested Windows 8 for several months, I can tell you that everything in Windows 8 feels snappy and fluid. Switching from app to app provides a quick animation instead of being too showy with a slow one. Apps launch quickly and there is no noticeable lag when switching between them. Scrolling is also smooth and predictable.

If you have an older computer, upgrading to Windows 8 could breathe new life into it.

Windows Store Apps

Windows 8 gives PC users a whole new world of full-screen, touch-friendly, Web-connected apps to explore. And these new apps can even display relevant information on their Windows Start screen tiles, something impossible in Windows 7 or just about any other operating system around, save Windows Phone

Apps in the Windows Store are generally solid, all conforming to Microsoft’s Modern UI design language and fully utilizing the widescreen nature of Windows 8.

The update process is simple, and you can install purchased apps on multiple Windows 8 devices without paying again, provided you’re signed in.

Finally, uninstalling the apps is streamlined by the Store, with no Registry complications as in past Windows versions’ apps.

Useful new features (File History, Storage Spaces, and Refresh/Remove)

  • The ability to easily reset or restore your PC, with just a click. The basic reset keeps all your docs and settings intact, while bringing Windows 8 back to a like-new installation.
  • Storage spaces. One of the coolest new features is Windows’ new ability to manage drives (internal and external) as if they were one. It creates redundancy and helps protect against drive failure (an all-too-common occurrence).
  • Better file copying. You can now pause and monitor file operations with much more detail.
  • File History The new file history tool saves versions of your files (everything in your Libraries, Desktop, Favorites, and Contacts folders) so you can quickly revert if needed. (This is kind of like Mac OS X’s Timeline feature.)
  • Better multi-monitor controls. If you have more than one display, you can now configure each one individually.
  • Account syncing. When you log on using your Windows Live account, Windows 8 can sync your settings, including app settings.
  • Security enhancements Windows 8 adds a “Secured Boot” feature which prevents malware from starting before the system has started up. It also comes with antivirus built-in.

You own a Windows Phone or computer with touch screen

If you own a Windows Phone device, it’ll integrate nicely with the operating system. Managing media will work seamlessly and you’ll never have to sync your phone with your computer, as both Windows Phone and Windows 8 rely on the cloud for syncing data.

If you have a touch screen PC that came with a customized, more touch friendly version of Windows 7, you’ll definitely want to upgrade to Windows 8. Windows 7 was never designed to be used with touch and it really shows. No matter how much PC manufacturers tried to skin Windows 7, it will still pale in comparison to Windows 8.

Windows 8 was made for touch and if you have a device that supports touch, the answer is fairly obvious. Windows 8 greatly enhances the tablet experience and you’ll definitely see the benefits of Windows 8.

Cons

Windows 7 is a solid operating system

Windows 7 is a solid operating system and loved by many. Since it’s been out on the market for so long, there is great support for the operating system so just about every application you can think of will run in Windows 7.

If you don’t want to bother with the headache of learning a new operating system or going through the trouble of upgrading, then Windows 7 will probably keep you happy for a long time. Microsoft has a history of supporting their older operating systems for a long time so you can skip a couple versions of Windows before you’re forced to upgrade.

Learn a new operation system

Definitely, absolutely do not upgrade if you aren’t willing to put the time into learning a new interface. You’ll just end up frustrated. Windows 8 is a whole new game.

Windows 8 has a steep learning curve. Those who thought jumping from Window XP to Windows Vista was difficult should avoid Windows 8.

The start menu is gone (although you can get it back with 3rd party apps), which is replaced by the Windows Modern UI. While pretty, it doesn’t do much to help you get your work done any faster. Your apps will show up as beautiful, live animated tiles but many will miss the utilitarian nature of the old Windows Start menu.

You’ll also have to learn what “charms” are and how to activate them. Where is My Computer? Where is the power button? What are hot corners? These will all be things you’ll have to re-learn in Windows 8.

Incompatible applications

With every upgrade to a new operating system, there will inevitably be a time where some of your applications will be incompatible. While many developers will have updated apps to run in Windows 8, there’s no guarantee that all of the applications you use every day will continue to work in the new operating system.

You don’t have a touch screen

The biggest change from Windows 7 to Windows 8 is the focus on creating a touch friendly user experience. If you don’t have a touch screen, then you’re missing out on a lot of what Microsoft has been pouring their resources into.

If you’re due for a new computer, it’s probably a wise idea to get one with a touch screen so you can use Windows 8’s touch features when you want. There is still full mouse and keyboard support but it’s not nearly as intuitive as controlling Windows 8’s Modern UI with touch.

Conclusion

All that said, while Windows 8 is mostly enjoyable and fast to use, it is rough around the edges. If you’re up for it, though, you can enjoy some very cool new features in Windows–while still accessing the old traditional desktop view whenever you prefer.

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