12 Great Reasons to Upgrade to Windows 8

Ready to Upgrade to Windows 8?

Illustration: Gordon McAlpin

You’ve got a PC capable of running Windows 8. But should you upgrade on October 26? Here are 12 reasons why you might want to consider an upgrade to Windows 8:

Extended Service & Support
Mainstream (free) support for Windows XP ended April 14, 2009. Extended support ends April 8, 2014. After that date, Microsoft will stop security updates, meaning XP will be unsafe to use. Free support for Windows Vista ended April 2012 and extended support ends April 2017. For those that want both support and security for a long period of time, it’s important to keep updated with Microsoft’s latest version of Windows.

Modern Look and Feel
The panel styled “Metro” interface in Windows 8 is a radical shift from previous versions and is a nod toward tablet and phone OSes – bright, clear buttons, an emphasis on graphics instead of text, and as few menus as possible. This more user-friendly design is meant to appeal to a huge audience of all ages and skill sets.

Microsoft Office 2013
Microsoft has announced that the upcoming new version of Office will only work with Windows 7 and Windows 8. Also, only the Windows 8 version will be Metro styled. It’s good to have newer versions of important apps like Office, because new features and file formats are introduced that can be incompatible with older versions.
Office 2013 also defaults to saving files on the SkyDrive cloud service, meaning it’s easy to access your documents wherever you are.

Metro Versions of Other Apps
Web browsers such as Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox are just a few of the applications getting in on the Metro design. And you’ll need Windows 8 to use these new designs. Those who have Windows 7 or earlier will be stuck with the old user interface, which will naturally not get as much attention, and may even be discontinued eventually.

Microsoft Office 2013 only works in Windows 7 or 8.

Device Matching
If you have a Windows tablet or Windows phone manufactured late in 2012, odds are it will have Windows RT, the mobile version of Windows 8. The look and feel of RT is nearly identical to Windows 8, and apps can sync between different devices. If you’re into a similar user experience through all your devices, then you’ll need Windows 8.
Also, the “dashboard” or main screen in Windows 8 is similar to that of an Xbox 360, and has been that way since December 2011, so those who do a lot of console gaming will find a lot of familiarity.

Faster Startup Time
This chart shows that Windows 8’s cold boot times (boot from a shutdown without hibernating or sleeping your PC) are significantly lower than Windows 7’s. Resuming from hibernation or sleep is also very fast. Most of us want to start our PCs up and get going quickly, and Windows 8 does that.

It’s Inexpensive
Through January 2013, if you upgrade Windows 8 from Windows 7, Windows Vista or Windows XP, it’s $40. That’s significantly cheaper than past Windows upgrades, so it makes sense to jump on the offer while you can. This promotion also includes a free Windows Media Center add-on.

Support for Touchscreens
If you do happen to have, or are planning to purchase, a touchscreen monitor, Windows 8 is made for it. With the large tile-based design rather than text menus, it’s easy to get to where you want to go. Touchscreen LCD screens should drop in price as the demand goes up, making them a more feasible option for most of us.

The Windows Store
Similar to an App Store on a tablet or phone, the Windows Store is integrated into Windows and lets you download free and paid apps that are then installed seamlessly. It’s a much more user friendly way to extend Windows.

Reset and Refresh
Reinstalling Windows can be an arduous process before now. Windows 8 offers two one-click solutions: Reset and Refresh. Reset removes everything from your PC and reinstalls Windows, basically restoring it to factory settings. Refresh keeps all your data, settings and apps, and reinstalls Windows on top of that. Awesome.

The Windows Store is integrated into Windows 8.

Windows to Go
We don’t know a whole lot about this feature yet, but apparently, you’ll be able to store a version of Windows 8 on a 32 GB or larger USB stick and include all your important documents and settings on it. Then, you can run that portable Windows on any PC with Windows 7 or Windows 8 on it and bring your experience with you. This sounds pretty innovative, and we can’t wait to try it out.

Cloud Sync
We mentioned the cloud support for Office up above, but Windows itself will use the cloud as well … to sync all your passwords and settings when you log in to your PC. That way, you can have multiple PCs that are all synced up easily. Those who use Google Chrome know how handy of a feature this is.

 

Three Reasons to Hold Off on Upgrading to Windows 8

There are specific cases where you might want to wait awhile on Windows 8. You’ll get there eventually, just not on launch date.

Windows Media Center No Longer Included
If you play a lot of DVDs or Blu-Rays through your PC, you should know that Windows Media Center doesn’t come with Windows 8, but must be purchased as an add-on. However, if you buy Windows 8 as an upgrade before January 2013, you’ll get Media Center free.

Planning to get a New PC + Windows 8 Later
Though people who buy Windows 7 PCs by the end of January 2013 can get a Windows 8 upgrade for $15, you may want to wait until good Windows 8 PCs are available in late October or November 2012 at the earliest. The full price of Windows 8 is not generally included in the cost of the PC, as the PC manufacturer buys the OS at a significant discount. This means that if you buy a PC that has Windows 8 on it, you’re saving money.

Your Company Won’t Let You
Often, businesses will wait some time before upgrading all their PCs to the latest Microsoft operating system. There are compatibility, testing and security issues to work out, and corporations can move slowly. All that means is that you might be stuck with your current version of Windows at work for a while longer.

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