Though still only a rumor, Microsoft is expected to release the highly anticipated Windows 8 operating system in time for the 2012 school year. If speculation proves accurate, Windows 8, a dramatic if not revolutionary direction for PC operating systems, will be available in mid-spring. For those already using PCs and not quite ready to invest in either a new machine or upgraded operating system, weighing options comes down to three primary factors: use, machine and system.
College students—and today that term encompasses a population that spans the age spectrum—are all virtually engaged in some form of online education. To that end, every student is dependent upon the technology used by their respective institutions. While that poses some restraints, most universities tend to lag behind new technology by a year or more. This lag is primarily driven by budgetary considerations of universities that mirror those of its students, namely holding off until funding allows for an upgrade, a big break for students with the tightest of resources.
Businesses not directly involved in the tech industry may not be affected—at least for some time—by the impending release of new technology. For those companies whose computer use is still mainly an efficient way to communicate, access MS Office products, or project commercial or proprietary management programs, the new features of Window 8 can largely be viewed as a luxury.
Although, as a whole, businesses may not see a need to introduce Windows 8 within their companies, sales departments might be the sole exception. It is arguable that some sales activities might benefit if sales associates can show off their technical prowess on a touch-screen PC bearing the new operating system. Such an investment might make sense given the near certainty that the rest of the PC world will eventually use Windows 8.
For PCs purchased in the last couple of years, there’s good news about Window 8. The new OS actually uses less memory than Windows 7, giving these users some flexibility as to whether or not they’ll want or need to upgrade. For older machines, the options become more complicated as the cost to add memory must be made in context of the expected life of the machine, the expected usage, and operating system requirements.
The system factor is listed last for a purpose. Migration to another system has to be weighed against the advisability of purchasing a new system, which follows usage. For those still using Windows XP – a majority of current users – the days of the most popular of all systems are effectively numbered. Microsoft has announced that it will no longer support the system after April 14, 2014. Now, if you’re a student finishing up your last year of school, it’s a pretty safe bet that you’ll not need to upgrade. However, if you still have two or more semesters to finish, migrating to Windows 7 may make sense.
For Windows 7 users, you are probably in better shape than others as it is likely that no hardware, memory or system changes will be necessitated by work requirements. These users also tend to have newer machines, which gives them the option of waiting until their machine is somewhat obsolete, at which time a replacement with Window 8 would be a smart move.
And what can be said about Vista that’s not been said before? Migrating to Windows 7, if fiscally practical, has never been a bad idea, and if work and machine capabilities will benefit from such a move, there’s really no need to wait.
Moving forward with new technology is becoming more of a necessity as technology development accelerates. Timing when to move forward involves some careful calculations, but none too difficult if you identify where you are with your work, machine and system needs. Windows 8, barring any issues such as those associated with Vista, will change the way PCs are used if for no other reason than its user interface system. Until that time, though, there is some wiggle room for most current PC owners.