17 July 2012

Windows 8 - Microsoft's new operating system

Microsoft has just announced that their new Operating System – Windows 8 – should be available for sale to the public at the end of October this year.  That doesn’t mean you need to go out and buy a new computer, but if you are shopping for a new computer at this time, it means you have a few things to consider…..

If it’s a new computer you need, not the new operating system, you’ll be able to get a great deal.  Retailers are going to be selling off their current Windows 7 computers at great prices to get rid of old stock before the new Windows 8 computers are released; and if you buy a new Windows 7 computer now, you’ll be able to download the upgrade to Windows 8 for just $14.99 up until 31 January 2013, if you want to. 

What if you don’t need a new computer? Just because Microsoft releases a new Operating System doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with what you’re using now and definitely doesn’t mean you have to upgrade.  There are still plenty of people happily using Windows XP, which was originally released back in 2001.  As at June 2012, 26% of all computer users are still using XP, 3% on Vista, and 53% on Windows 7 (8.6% on Mac).

What if you like the idea of having the latest thing, but don't need a new computer?  If you already have a Windows computer running XP, Vista, or Windows 7 you’ll be able to download an upgrade to Windows 8 for $39.99 up until 31 January 2013 – subject to the technical specifications of your computer being suitable for Windows 8. 

But can your computer be upgraded?  If you have an older PC, running XP or Vista, your computer hardware may not be capable of running Windows 8.  Windows 8 has two parts to it – the normal Windows interface that isn’t much changed from Windows 7, and a completely new design – called Metro.  Even if your hardware is capable of being upgraded to Windows 8, the Metro interface has been designed for touchscreens, touchpads and touch mice that support gestures, without which you won’t be able to experience the full Windows 8 functionality.

Touch screens have been around for a while so you may already have one, and if you have a desktop computer you can easily replace your current monitor with a touch screen.  But if you’ve got a laptop it’s not an option, unless you attach a separate touch screen monitor – which sort of defeats the portability purpose of having a laptop!  However, as long as your laptop is running Windows 7 you can add a Microsoft Touch Mouse for around $30, so you will be able to use Windows 8’s Metro.

What would I do if I knew I was going to buy a new computer in the next few months?  I would buy a Windows 7 computer knowing I was getting a great deal on the price before Windows 8 is released.  If you’re not worried about having the latest, brand new techie thing, it’s usually better to get the last version of a known and trusted operating system, rather than the first release of a completely new one.  I’d recommend waiting until any glitches have been detected and fixed before jumping in to Windows 8.  If I was hearing good things about it I would then take advantage of the $14.99 offer to upgrade to Windows 8 before the end of January 2013.

Would you like to more about Windows 8?  Take a look at this quick video

Now that we have a more definite release date, I’ll be posting more about Windows 8 and its features.  If you’ve been trying the preview that was released last September I’d love to hear what you think about it.

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