Software // Operating Systems
04:45 PM
Kevin Casey
Kevin Casey

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'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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User Rank: Apprentice
10/5/2012 | 5:24:52 PM
re: Windows 8: Why I Won't Upgrade
Agree on passing. I've used the Win8 on my laptop for weeks, finally agreed it simply is not designed for the IT Professional or Corp environments. I need to run multiple items, and having a single app take my entires screen is not helpful. Yes, I can run the Desktop, but that is just a poor process in comparison to Win7. Win8 is best suited for touch-screen phone or tablet. But for serious productivity on a pc, this is a step backward. And saying switching to Linux is an answer in the Corp world with hundreds of systems and servers is not realistic without serious planning, budget, and most of all a real business reason to do so. Few will undertake doing so when Win7 works just fine and is fully supported. I would not be surprised if MS goes back to drawing board and modifies Win9 to better address pc environment.
User Rank: Apprentice
10/5/2012 | 5:21:38 PM
re: Windows 8: Why I Won't Upgrade
There is nothing wrong with using the best tool for the job. If you have no use for better dual monitor support, touch screens, or expanding storage with a few clicks, or built-in access to a vetted software library, follow-me data and system settings, then stick with Windows 7. Also Windows 8 is not holding a gun to your head saying you must use all the new fancy UI elements. You can easily configure it to behave exactly like Windows 7 if you so desire. It's nice to have choices. I will choose Windows 8 for the betterment of the underpinnings and will ignore the new UI until I feel ready to grow into it.
User Rank: Ninja
10/5/2012 | 5:09:36 PM
re: Windows 8: Why I Won't Upgrade
That comment makes a lot sense in the context of this article. Author discussing why change version of Windows just for change sake and you think it is good idea to change the entire operating system instead. Here is a news flash for you...Linux upgrades their O/S also, It's the same tail chase!

I agree with Kevin completely. Our company just now replacing XP with Win 7 and I wasn't convinced we even needed to do that. The programs I use still worked just fine on XP, the o/s itself is irrelevant in a business, it's all about the apps. It will be a looonngg time before Win 8 comes in here.
User Rank: Strategist
10/5/2012 | 2:04:23 PM
re: Windows 8: Why I Won't Upgrade
IMHO, we have come to a Fork in the Road... Gaming and Entertainment ? MSFT/AAPL. But if you are interested in serious computing it might be time to load up a LINUX system and evaluate it.

yep, -- you'll have to swap a few programs you are used to to alternates which do the same chores.

But the question will be: what is important to you? If security comes to mind you might want to hunt up a computer you're not using an try a copy of UBUNTU. Get the 12.04 LTS -- either 32 or 64 bit.
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