Everyone is different, but here’s APC’s take on who we think will or won’t benefit from upgrading to Windows 8.
While Windows 8 is cheap, it doesn’t actually do anything that you can’t already do with Windows 7. The exception is perhaps battery life performance on mobile devices such as laptops, which could be beneficial. That said, you might as well wait until your next desktop/laptop upgrade, where Windows 8 will come bundled as part of the package.
While Windows 8 initially appeared to show a small slowdown compared to Windows 7 in gaming benchmarks back at the Developer Preview, this seems to have been ironed out by the release of Windows 8. With all the major GPU manufacturers having released Windows 8-specific drivers, it’s fair to say that Windows 8 is as capable a gaming platform as Windows 7 was. In some ways, thanks to all the optimising under the bonnet, Windows 8 may even be a better platform for gaming, just as long as you don’t let the new user interface get in your way.
By nature, overclockers, system builders and Windows enthusiasts are going to want the latest and greatest, and it doesn’t matter what you read here or elsewhere. If this is you, then your mind is already made up. Maybe keep a dual-boot system with Windows 7 as a backup, however, and good luck!
What about the ‘non-geeks’ in your family? Will Windows 8 appeal? Well, with a few quick tests on our own guinea pigs (aka partners and siblings), the initial reaction wasn’t good. The new user interface is such an abject departure from the classic Windows desktop they’re used to that it was confusing and frustrating. Your mileage may vary depending on the techno-literacy of family members, but unless you feel they need something Windows 8 brings, it’s probably best to save your own sanity as de facto tech support and not upgrade them.
Even though Windows 8 isn’t an expensive upgrade, in terms of productivity (email, browsing, Office) it doesn’t offer anything you and your staff can’t already do with Windows 7. Depending on the size of your business, it likely isn’t worth the effort in retraining, either.
Here’s one area where we think Windows 8 could shine. The power saving, speed enhancements and smaller memory footprint make it an attractive upgrade for laptops, while its integration with cloud services to sync content and user settings would make it easier for road warriors to keep phones, tablets and laptops up to date.
Bespoke software is always a determining factor here, but if there are no special software requirements, there seems little incentive to upgrade to Windows 8. As a productivity platform it doesn’t offer anything Windows 7 doesn’t already do, the new user interface isn’t anywhere near apt for productivity applications like Office on the desktop, and the costs of retraining (with or without the new user interface, given the changes to the classic desktop) make it even less attractive. Given that some businesses still use XP, we don’t expect Windows 8 to make inroads for big business for years to come, if at all.
Microsoft is pushing hard for Windows 8 and the new user interface, so its latest Visual Studio bundle focuses on helping developers build apps for the Windows Store (right down to integrating the first steps of publishing into Visual Studio itself). If you plan on building Windows 8 new UI apps as a business model, then it’s better to dive in sooner rather than later and get a handle on Microsoft’s new ecosystem.