Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Windows 8: The Coming Storm

Windows 8 is scheduled for release late next year (2012).  It will not be "just another version of Windows" -- it will be the most dramatic change in personal computing since the very first version of Windows replaced "DOS" 21 years ago.  The most fundamental, functional elements of Windows will be massively changed.  These changes compel me to make a recommendation that I very rarely make...

According to recent studies, over 80% of all Windows computer users are still using Windows XP.  There is a good reason for this:  XP still works fine for the needs of most computer users.  Normally, I'd say stick with XP until your computer breaks down (or you just really want a new one).  However, the extremeness of the changes in Windows 8 will be so great, that I recommend that all users of Windows XP upgrade to Windows 7 before Windows 8 is released....

I won't go into detail about all of the changes, because Microsoft is still "tweaking" them.  ...But a concise and simple description is that Windows 8 will operate like a "Smart Phone" (e.g. iPhone, Windows 7 Phone, Blackberry, etc.)  Your familiar desktop will be replaced with the new "Metro User Interface".  This interface will look -- and work -- exactly the same whether it is installed on a Smart Phone, a Tablet PC, a Laptop, or a Desktop PC.

That's right -- a Windows 8 Desktop PC will look and work just like a "giant Smart Phone."

I have serious hesitations about how well this will be accepted by most Windows users (like you.)  A significant number of professionals (like me) have expressed our serious misgivings to Microsoft -- with what has been noted by Microsoft as among the most "frank" complaints they have ever gotten on a pre-release system.  Their response -- translated to simple terms -- is "We don't care whether you like it or not.  This is what we're doing.  ...Deal with it."

My Strong Recommendations

If you are currently using a system with Windows XP, I very strongly recommend that you upgrade to a Windows 7 system before Windows 8 is released.  My reasons:
  • Once Windows 8 is released, Microsoft will quickly abandon security and other updates for Windows XP   In fact, Microsoft is already starting a campaign to force XP users to upgrade to Windows 7.  Their efforts will become increasingly aggressive as the release of Window 8 approaches.
  • Windows 7 is a good, solid release.  I use it.  There are some things that work differently than in XP, but whatever inconveniences you may encounter with Windows 7, they will be much worse in Windows 8.
  • The changes in Windows 8 are not just functional or cosmetic.  They are making deep changes in how the system works, and requiring all software writers to make deep changes in how they write their programs.  This will likely result in a huge number "bugs" in Windows 8, and the software that runs on it.
  • Once Windows 8 is released, you may not be able to buy Windows 7, or a system with Windows 7 already installed.

What's the best way to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7...?

For most of you, buying a new PC with Windows 7 already installed will be the best option.  I'm sorry to tell you this.  I don't sell PC's, so I don't stand to profit from this fact.  The PC hardware that ran Windows XP isn't likely to be powerful enough, and upgrading that hardware would cost as much as (or more than) buying a new PC.

The only exception is if your PC has a sticker on it that says "Windows Vista Compatible".  In this case, you could install an upgrade to Windows 7 with little or no hardware changes.  However, the cost for doing this will still be close to the cost of a low-end PC with Windows 7 already installed.  (NOTE:  If your PC has a sticker that says "Windows Vista Capable", it will not run Windows 7 without hardware upgrades -- if at all.)

For some systems, upgrading to Windows 7 will be an economical solution.  For others, it won't.  It depends on what hardware is in your system.


  1. I completely agree. Microsoft rarely ever gets it right on the first try. It took 2 service packs to get XP solid (the 3rd was just a consolidation of all the previous updates over several years). Windows Vista took so long to finish they had to rush it out before it was ready. Hence, Windows 7 is actually the completed version. Now Windows 8 comes out... immediately followed by Windows 8.1 (otherwise known as "BandAid"). For now, I agree that Windows 7 SP1 is the most stable and reliable choice for Windows users.

    1. Great to hear from you Cliff. Send me an email and tell me how you're doing!


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