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10/3/2012
04:45 PM
Kevin Casey
Kevin Casey
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Windows 8: Why I Won't Upgrade

Somehow I've managed to not crumble under the albatross that is a near-five-pound laptop. I'm sticking with Windows 7--and many small businesses will, too.

8 Key Differences Between Windows 8 And Windows RT
8 Key Differences Between Windows 8 And Windows RT
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
I recently upgraded my primary work PC. I thought about waiting a few months for Windows 8 and then thought: What am I waiting for?

I couldn't come up with many good answers. So I purchased a new laptop running Windows 7, and have no plans to upgrade later this month when Windows 8 launches. That's not necessarily staggering news, but here's why I keep thinking about it: I've always been a Windows guy. Shouldn't I be a little more eager for Microsoft's reboot of its longstanding OS?

The reality is that Windows 8 is a much bigger deal for Microsoft than it is for me and, I'd wager, most small businesses.

"An SMB is unlikely to decide 'Windows 7 is no longer good enough, I must have Windows 8!'," Analysys Mason analyst Patrick Rusby told me via email. "Windows 7 is proven and popular."

Exactly. Windows 7 works, quite well in my experience. So I don't see a particularly pressing need to upgrade; Microsoft will support Windows 7 through 2020. Although it's not new in technology time, it's new enough for me. I'm not an early adopter--I'm just a plain old adopter, which I think usually leads to better purchasing decisions on a small business budget.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it," said Steve Hilton, Rusby's colleague at Analysys Mason. "Sometimes good enough is simply good enough for the majority of SMBs."

In a similar vein, I need the return on my technology investments to be clear cut. Like most small businesses and self-employed professionals, I'm willing to take significant risks knowing that they come with an increased likelihood of failure along the way--provided there's a tangible reward for success. A computer OS isn't an area where I see much upside in living dangerously. It just needs to get the job done well--or, more to the point, help me get my job done well. Windows 8, because it's a major revamp, comes with risks.

[ They're here, but does anyone care? See Nokia Windows Phone 8 Devices Arrive With Thud. ]

"Busy people do not want to have to learn a whole new OS, and Windows 8 looks sufficiently different as to require quite a bit of getting used to," Rusby said. He noted, too, that the new OS is a lot more consumer-y than previous versions, which have been mainstays on countless business machines. "It looks fun, not productive," Rusby said.

XBox is fun. Fantasy football is fun. The PCs in my office? Not so much fun, because that's not what they're there for.

Here's probably the biggest reason I'll be passing on Windows 8 for the foreseeable future: It wasn't designed for my needs. The two things I do most often in my job are typing and talking on the phone. A tablet is not optimal for either. Touch PCs sound nice in theory, and I can envision some jobs where they might make a good investment--just not mine, at least not now. But what about mobility? Somehow I've managed to not crumble under the albatross that is this near-five-pound laptop. My Android phone keeps me connected to email, voice, and other business apps when the laptop is offline.

"Windows 8 is really designed for touchscreens, so a new device is needed to get the best out of it," Rusby said. "That is another expense, and touchscreens still have to prove themselves a lot before they can replace laptops."

Even though Microsoft has been rolling out aggressive upgrade offers for Windows 8, I just don't see much rush. I'd like to see it in the wild. The consumer and release previews were just that: previews. I'd like to talk to other professionals about how they're using it to get work done, and how it compares with previous versions. Most of all, I'd like to see some clearer reasons for making the switch.

The OS upgrade treadmill, as InformationWeek.com's Jonathan Feldman called it, isn't for me. If and when I do get Windows 8, it will probably be driven by a hardware purchase, not the other way around. By then, we'll probably be talking about Windows 9.

There are no doubt other lines of work where Windows 8 might hold more immediate appeal. I'd love to hear from small and mid-size businesses that have plans for Windows 8. I'd like to hear from SMBs that, like me, are sticking with older versions of Windows for the foreseeable future. And if you just want to explain to me why I'm wrong, that's fine, too. You can reach me via email or Twitter, or chime in with a comment below.

Upgrading isn't the easy decision that Win 7 was. We take a close look at Server 2012, changes to mobility and security, and more in the new Here Comes Windows 8 issue of InformationWeek. Also in this issue: Why you should have the difficult conversations about the value of OS and PC upgrades before discussing Windows 8. (Free registration required.)

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GAProgrammer
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GAProgrammer,
User Rank: Ninja
10/8/2012 | 6:05:08 PM
re: Windows 8: Why I Won't Upgrade
Very valid point here - there isn't much difference between 7 and 8. However, at $40, why wouldn't you? However, from XP to something, might as well go to 8.
GAProgrammer
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GAProgrammer,
User Rank: Ninja
10/8/2012 | 6:01:37 PM
re: Windows 8: Why I Won't Upgrade
You'll be fine - don't listen to these close-minded people. I have used 8 extensively and have rarely had a problem (once I got to the interface. It doesn't take long if you actually TRY.)

Should Microsoft have left the Start button? Hell yes. Does it make the desktop unusable? NO WAY! It works just the same.
RichMNY
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RichMNY,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/7/2012 | 11:09:21 PM
re: Windows 8: Why I Won't Upgrade
Nope, bad choice, best choice to upgrade from XP is Windows 7.
RichMNY
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RichMNY,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/7/2012 | 11:07:16 PM
re: Windows 8: Why I Won't Upgrade
Great for tablets and smartphones, makes no sense for desktop computers.
regbs
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regbs,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/7/2012 | 11:05:05 PM
re: Windows 8: Why I Won't Upgrade
Note to self: if I ever get tired of a real job, become a tech blogger and write inane, time-wasting, useless crap like why I'm not getting Windows 8. Do people and publications actually survive on this tripe? Answer: Yes, which is awesome! Good on you, Kevin Casey. I need to start blogs and YouTube channels on how to fold towels, tie my shoes, and keep-up-or-keep-right rules of traffic-flow on the freeway.

Using SMB instead of writing it out. What a savvy connected guy! I can't wait to read what you set your screen brightness to.
RichMNY
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RichMNY,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/7/2012 | 11:04:49 PM
re: Windows 8: Why I Won't Upgrade
Nope ... Windows 8 is another Windows Vista MS blunder.
RichMNY
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RichMNY,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/7/2012 | 10:58:26 PM
re: Windows 8: Why I Won't Upgrade
Totally agree. Windows 8 is designed for tablets and smartphones. Makes no sense for a desktop PC to behave like that, sticking with Windows 7 which I am very satisfied with. BTW, I have a smartphone, happy with this type of interface for this type of device.
kevinski
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kevinski,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/7/2012 | 9:54:13 PM
re: Windows 8: Why I Won't Upgrade
Having a suitable replacement for everything isn't enough. Again, Linux needs to do its own thing, and it needs to do things better than Windows, not as good as or worse than Windows. Furthermore, it'd need to increase productivity to make it worthwhile for most businesses.

A lot of Linux advocates tend to tout the cost savings that comes with switching to Linux, but businesses clearly have no problem with paying Microsoft's licensing fees (or maybe just outright pirate software), so that's a moot point. People don't care if something that's free can do the same thing as well as something that isn't free. They either want something that's familiar or easier to learn than what they already have, and Linux just isn't like that.

To some extent, I'd say that it's because of the naming conventions for a lot of open-source apps, but it's more than that. Linux has many of the same problems as Windows and Mac OS in certain respects, and I'd say that Linux is arguably worse in many respects, since it tends to play things way too safe. Sure, people may complain about some of the changes that Microsoft has made over the years (especially more recently, what with Ribbons and Metro), but they're at least making some attempts at improving productivity, even though some of those attempts are somewhat misguided.
beancube
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beancube,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/7/2012 | 9:47:17 PM
re: Windows 8: Why I Won't Upgrade
The climate of the economy is the major concern. This kind of upgrade is not going to help users. Looking good technologies don't match reality and are perceived almost as evil as covering up for Wall St insiders economic exploitations.
DHBarr
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DHBarr,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/7/2012 | 6:40:06 PM
re: Windows 8: Why I Won't Upgrade
I have to say I did a Win 8 Webinar and was somewhat impressed. Win 8 seems like a logical progression and update to Win 7. That said, I agree that you won't see a lot of business adoption of Win 8 until Microsoft gets its act together on Office 2013. Win 8 has some terrific synchronization features between multiple devices (your tablet, laptop, and desktop for example - all synchronized for you automatically) - but those features are most needed in the business environment by people running office, and especially OUTLOOK.
When your Win8 lock screen is monitoring outlook for you, and the email and calendar are automatically syncronized with all your devices - then I can make a case for it to my business clients. Until that happens - Win 7 is just fine.
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