Should you move to Windows 8?

Unification of user interface is a compelling reason to make the move

Microsoft has put a lot of effort into Windows 8, as have OEMs such as Lenovo. Do features like the tablet-friendly Windows 8 touch interface justify the move?

Some users have been wary of Windows 8, as it represents a paradigm shift in terms of the Windows user interface, and have chosen to migrate to Windows 7 instead. If you’re one of these people, you should rethink your position on Windows 8 for three main reasons. First, Windows 8 is meant to unify the Windows experience across desktops, laptops, and tablets. In my experience, it does a good job of this. Second, since Windows 8 comes preinstalled on most new hardware, it’s going to be more work to downgrade it. Third, and most importantly, if you’re going to go through the effort and expense of migrating from an older version of Windows, you should choose the latest version to avoid having to migrate again sooner than you’d like.

The Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK) is a collection of tools that I wrote about in my first blog entry on XP migration. This tool is made to help you customize and deploy Windows 8 across more than one computer, so consider it in your migration project. But don’t stop there. Microsoft has other tools and a lot of information available to you.

Start with this FAQ page, where Microsoft has information on how to test your applications for compatibility with Windows 8.x. Next, use the Windows 8.1 Upgrade Assistant to also help with devices and network connections, and the Windows Compatibility Center to help you resolve any issues you may uncover. The last point is important: Microsoft wants you to succeed in your migration, and offers tools and assistance to move your peripherals, devices, and applications to its latest OS.

Worth the Effort

Windows 8 tends to be more efficient than Windows 7 at many tasks, including startup and shutdown times, and power usage, thanks to its focus on tablet computing. Overall, many people report seeing a noticeable increase in performance when running on the same hardware. It also takes quite a bit less time to create clone images compared with Windows 7 – something that will make IT departments much more efficient.

In terms of overall productivity improvements, Windows 8 makes it easier than ever to:

  • Sync your settings across computers and devices
  • Share files between applications (i.e. social media integration)
  • Handle multi-monitor setups
  • Improve security through graphical password integration
  • Backup files and settings with the new File History tool.

Perhaps most importantly, the unification of the user interface for phones, tablets, and laptops/desktops goes a long way towards increasing user productivity. In the end, with many – if not most – of today’s laptops including touchscreens, you might just wonder how you’ve lived without Windows 8 all this time.