Windows 8 will be out on October 26 and even though it is a highly controversial operating system, it is likely that Microsoft will once again make a huge profit on it. Especially the Modern UI, the missing start page and the touch-centric design of the operating system have been criticized ever since Microsoft lifted the curtain and revealed how it imagined Windows 8 to look like.
If you are currently not sure whether you should upgrade to Windows 8 or not, I'd like to provide you with ten reasons why it may make sense to upgrade your PC. In the second part of the mini series, I'm going to provide you with ten reasons why you should not upgrade to Windows 8.
Microsoft runs a promotion until January 31, 2013 that will get you an upgrade copy of Windows 8 Pro for $39.99 regardless of the version of XP, Vista or Windows 7 that you own. Even if you do not plan to upgrade right away, you may use the opportunity to get the Windows 8 upgrade for the cheap before the promotion runs out. Plus, you do get the Media Center Pack for free with the upgrade, which otherwise would cost extra.
If you have bought an eligible Windows 7 PC, your upgrade price is reduced to $14.99, while a full copy of Windows 8 during the promotion sets you back $69.99.
But Windows 8 will be considerably cheaper than previous versions of Windows, at least when you compare retail prices. Windows 8 Pro, the flagship version for consumers, will retail for $199 which is the price that you can currently get Windows 7 Home Premium for. The comparable version, Windows 7 Professional retails for $299.
Windows 8 is the first Microsoft operating system with a built-in store. It is not the store that I dreamed of as it does not include direct downloads of desktop software, but it is a start and it is likely that we will see improvements made to the store in the coming years.
For now, you get to download and install free and paid Modern UI apps. The benefit here is that all the apps offered in the store are verified by Microsoft, so that it is less likely that you will install something on your PC that is malicious in nature. Plus, updates are handled automatically as well so that you never run into issues here either.
Microsoft is betting big on touch input and if you are using a device with a touch screen then the upgrade should be a no brainer. The start page has been optimized for touch, and even the desktop uses touch controls for some of the most basic operations like shutting down the PC.
This should not keep mouse and keyboard users away from the operating system though as it is perfectly fine to work with the system this way. It may take some getting used to time but once you have passed that, it is not really that different than working with previous versions of Windows.
You can create a new local account or sign in with a Microsoft Account. The latter makes available all the features of the operating system that are not available to local account users. This includes access to Windows Store, but also cloud synchronization.
If you work on multiple PCs running Windows 8, you benefit from synchronized settings and features when you sign in with your Microsoft Account on those systems. This is also true when you sign in with your account on computers you do not own, say at an Internet Cafe in Tokyo or at the Tel Aviv airport. So, when you sign in there, you get your language preferences, personalizations and other features even if it is the first time doing so.
Windows 8 ships with viewers and support for popular file types such as pdf. You can now read pdf documents in a reader app so that you do not have to install a third party program if reading is all that you want to do.
Another new interesting feature is the mounting of ISO and VHD images directly in the operating system. These disk images become available as drives once mounted.
For the most part, Windows 8 should run as stable and solid as Windows 7. If things turn south though, Windows 8 users benefit from the new refresh and reset features as it can really improve the time it takes to get things fixed, especially if reinstallation is the only option to go forward.
Refresh basically creates a new copy of the operating system without affecting personal files, apps that you have installed or user profiles. While you still lose access to installed desktop programs, you do not lose everything this way.
Reset on the other hand restores the factory defaults of the operating system which is similar to what a reinstallation does, only that the reset feature completes much faster and with less user interaction.
File History makes available previous versions of files so that you can recover the original files if they have been modified. It is an improvement over Windows Backup and Previous Versions as it is more out in the open and easier to handle. The backups can be stored locally, or on network storage
When you copy or move files you can display a graph that is displaying the transfer speeds in realtime. You not only get the current speed but also the mean speed of the operation, the items remaining, the size of the remaining items and the time it should take to transfer.
As far as file management goes, you can now pause transfers, which you could not do in previous versions of Windows. Another interesting addition is that multiple file transfers are not spawned in individual file transfer windows anymore.
If you do not like the Modern UI, the start page or the missing start menu, then rest assured that you can avoid those with ease. As far as the start page and missing start menu goes, you can install programs like Start8 or Classic Shell to bypass the start page on boot and add a start menu back to the operating system at the same time.
You do not really need to use the Modern UI or apps on the system, and what you end up with is a modernized version of Windows 7 that behaves and feels like a desktop operating system.
Windows 8 runs not only on x86 hardware but also on ARM processors. While that may not be a reason to upgrade your existing x86-based PC to Windows 8, support for ARM processors brings the operating system on devices that previous versions could not be installed on. You get Microsoft's Surface RT for instance, a low-cost mobile device with Office and the Modern UI that is competing directly with Apple's iPad and to a lesser extent Google Android devices.
If you are a system builder, you now got a whole new array of possibilities at your disposal to create low-cost systems.
Are there other features that you are interested in that have not been mentioned in this article? Feel free to add your opinion in the comments.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.