Twelve days ago, I published a blog post where I announced my plans to use Windows 8 for a full week and see how it went. I posted an update after 3 days, which you can read here, and up until then, I was using it all day, every day. However, on day 6 of my experiment, I had to switch to Fedora Linux for a university project, and I haven’t used Windows 8 since. Let me expand on this a bit more.
I’m not using Linux day to day. I used Fedora for a specialist purpose, and I was pleasantly surprised by its ease of use and performance compared to my last foray into Linux a few years ago. I had to use VMWare to run this OS, and this is why I stopped using Windows 8. What I am using day to day, is Windows 7. There are a number of reasons for this, the main one being that I can’t recommend Windows 8 as an upgrade for Windows 7 users. It’s more of a “sidegrade”. If you’re using XP or Vista then yes, upgrading to the latest release of Windows makes sense, but for Windows 7 users even the £40 special upgrade price (announced today using the Microsoft exchange rate of £1=$1) seems expensive for what you’re getting.
So when it comes down to it, what are you getting? Sadly, as I have come to realise over the past week, the answer to that is “not much”. Don’t get me wrong – Windows 8 is a very good operating system. It’s fast, stable and it looks great. Whilst I still have some reservations about Metro, it’s generally polished and features like Storage Spaces will undoubtedly come in handy for some people. However, I can’t shake the feeling that if you’re on Windows 7, you don’t have much to gain by upgrading to Windows 8.
Metro is a massive gamble for Microsoft, and I can’t help but echo other tech commentators when I say that Windows 8 is definitely a good OS, but it’s just not the must-have upgrade that it needs to be. I would be very happy if I bought a new PC with Windows 8 on it – but would I upgrade my main PC from Windows 7? Now, I’m not so sure. The reason for this is that it isn’t overly clear to the consumer what they’re getting new in Windows 8. Sure there’s the Metro UI which is admittedly pretty big but in terms of new features such as Storage Spaces, most consumers won’t get an immediate benefit from upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 8.