Clients often ask me if they should upgrade to Windows 8, and I often give them the same answer: No. I have valid reasons to say that, which I would like to elaborate in this article, so if you’re considering the big move to Windows 8, you might want to read this first.
The Apple Revolution
Windows 8 was released to the public on October 26th 2012 to a mixed reception, and is/was Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s growing dominance in the small-device market. Microsoft had been in "tablet-denial" for several years while Apple’s rollercoaster IOS just kept rolling on, pretty much creating a massive new market for tablets with the iPad, initiating the smart phone revolution with the iPhone, and making tiny music players cool and funky with the iPod. This "small-device" revolution was taking away a ton of business from Microsoft’s Windows desktop operating systems’ long-held market, but it took years for them to realize this and respond.
Goodbye desktop, hello tablet
Now somewhere along the line, someone made the idiotic suggestion that tablets would take over the declining PC desktop market, which must have made a certain CEO change his underwear, because Microsoft pretty much abandoned the desktop operating system and turned Windows into a touch-screen style interface with very limited, and clumsy desktop features. It would have been far better for Microsoft to develop an offshoot of Windows for the tablet market, and not panic and drop their collective bundle.
The truth is that tablets and other small-devices are mostly an addition to a users technology arsenal, not a replacement. The desktop PC will be around for sometime yet because (a) Gamers need tons of everything including CPU power, GPU power, RAM, HDD capacity and huge screens, have you seen the size of some of their rigs? (b) Developers, 3D, CAD, Web Designers, Graphic Artists etc need high-end CPU, GPU, RAM, screens and HDD (like these), so until all that is fitted into a tablet, it ain’t gonna happen!
I think the reason for declining desktop PC sales is that for some users (read: teenagers), all they need is a tablet and a phone, they have no need for a desktop (yet). So what would have been a straight-up desktop PC purchase, has changed to a tablet & phone purchase. There are some users who have made the complete switch from desktop to tablet, but that is no reason to panic. The desktop PC will gradually decrease in size but will always be in demand and around in some form.
Not all bad news
One good thing to come from all this is that Windows 8 is an awesome tablet operating system, it really does work exceptionally well as a touch-screen style OS. But as a desktop OS it sucks.
What to do with Windows 8?
If you have bought a new desktop PC or laptop with Windows 8, I recommend downgrading to Windows 7, which in my view is the best operating system Microsoft has offered to date. For tablets there is no issue, Windows 8 will work very well, but not for desktops or laptops. Windows 8 may however be a better OS choice for a touch-screen laptop if that is what you have, but otherwise a downgrade to Windows 7 is my recommendation.
Microsoft released a major update to Windows 8 in the form of Windows 8.1, supposedly to fix the terrible GUI issues for desktop users, but in my opinion it’s not much of an improvement, however if you’re struggling with Windows 8 on your desktop and can’t downgrade to Windows 7, definitely do the upgrade to Windows 8.1.
What about Windows 9?
I hear that Windows 9 (which is in active development) has brought back the traditional desktop environment so missed by many, but I am a little worried it may not have gone far enough, I guess we will see in 2015.
In the meantime, Windows 7 will do fine thanks.