What to do about Windows 8

Unless you have gotten rid of your TV and stayed off the Internet the past month or two you know that Microsoft has released their latest operating system called Windows 8. We have been supporting Microsoft Windows since version 3.1 and with every release that comes out we always get asked if our clients (and family members) should upgrade.

Well, funny enough the answer has stayed the same over the 18 or so years we have been supporting computers:

  • If what you have is working well – don’t upgrade unless there is a compelling reason to do so. By compelling I mean a software package you use will not run without the upgrade or there is something so beneficial in the new version that you will quickly recover the disruption time from upgrading.
  • If you are replacing a computer – get the latest version but understand your applications may not run right with it. The most recent example of this was people moving from Windows XP to Windows 7. Much of the software they had been using did not initially run right with Windows 7.

So now that those answers are there let me tell you about breaking the rules. I was lured into upgrading my laptop to Windows 8 while I was on the road and just before a big conference where I needed to present a PowerPoint. I always tell clients to never make changes on the road and never make changes before a critical event such as giving a presentation.

And you know what happened – the upgrade appeared to work but then my machine got stuck in a continuous cycle of restarting but not letting me log in. I had to attend the conference with my tablet and give my presentation from it which was a little rough but worked.

I was able to fix the Windows install but it required a rebuild which wiped out all of my installed software but left my data. This is a new scenario with Windows 8 and another reason to hold off upgrading – the techs that are used to certain troubleshooting methods in Windows XP and Windows 7 will be presented with a new set of tools that takes getting used to which means more dollars spent to fix things. Getting Windows 8 already installed on a machine avoids this issue initially.

Finally, I would recommend holding off as long as possible until the market determines if Windows 8 is another Windows Vista – a version that changed the interface and had lots of resistance from people using it. The new interface of Windows 8 is a big departure from Windows 7 and feels plain weird when you are used to previous versions. It really slowed me down for a good day or two.

Bottom line is that we use business computers as a tool – to allow us to get our work done better, faster and with less hassle than other methods. There is nothing I have seen so far in Windows 8 that accomplishes these items better than Windows 7. This may change as the product matures but for now we recommend staying where you are at unless you have to get a new machine.

If you have made the plunge, what has been your experience? If you have not but just cannot control yourself, please contact us so we can at least run a tool to tell you which applications you have may not work with Windows 8.

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