Out with the new, in with the old.


Familiarity breeds contempt ……. or so they say. However, for most of us, when it comes to our own computer, we take great comfort (and convenience) from what is familiar, safe in the knowledge that we can click on the same old buttons we always have done, pick from the same menu we always have and store things in the places we can always find them. For Windows users, the first Start Menu on our computer has become as familiar as pair of old slippers, so familiar in fact, that you probably don’t even register it as the ‘Start Menu’ – it is just what has always appeared when we have turned our computer on and clicked on the bottom left–hand icon! With each new release of Windows, things may have been tweaked, but nothing to cause us too much trouble or inconvenience. Until, that is, the arrival of Window 8 late last year.


Those of you who already have Windows 8 will have realised how different its new Start Menu is to what has become so familiar to most of us. Whilst change is not necessarily a bad thing, in this case, this new version and the associated Apps seem to be chock full of minor problems and irritations. As a result, it has been met with customer resistance and has seriously struggled to be accepted at all by users. The good news is that Microsoft appears to have has finally listened to their customers and is preparing to do a U-turn, releasing a new version of Windows 8 with the option of using a traditional, and more familiar, Start Menu.


The bad news, however, is that it is likely that the new version, which might simply be called Windows 8.1, won’t go on general release until late autumn this year. This delay is mainly due to the way Microsoft has now decided to release its major updates, currently known as Service Packs. These are currently announced rather quietly with little fanfare. In future they will become yearly, full-scale marketing events with bells and whistles, much like the publicity Apple gives to their updates.   


However, six months is a long time to wait if you are looking to buy a new computer and don’t want to have to put up with the irritations of Windows 8. Even if you do wait, there is no guarantee that the other irritations still lurking in the software will be fixed. For example, in my opinion, the best feature of Windows 7 was the Search feature and this has been wrecked in Windows 8.


What many people don’t realise is that it is still possible to buy desktops and laptops with a trusty version of Windows 7. Business users, keen to avoid the more ‘domestic’ Windows 8, often go to resellers who still offer Windows 7 Pro as an option. Try for example Dell or Ebuyer.com. For the domestic user, there is also a better value option available and this is what I do for my own computers.


Many business computers are sold with three year warranties and so when the warranty runs out, companies dispose of the old computers and buy a new batch. These old computers are usually wiped clean of data, spruced up and sold as ex-business machines for very reasonable prices. Now that Windows 7 has been around for nearly four years, there are plenty of machines being sold with Windows 7 licenses. Performance wise you won’t be missing out and will be hard pushed to find anything of better value. This equally applies to laptops as well as desktops. Remember also that as a business laptop is usually very well built, with good spare part availability and support, they generally make excellent 2nd hand investments.


Change can often be for the better, but for many people, familiarity is what we want and for many, Windows 7 is just right.


© Peter Johnston, ByteSupport Ltd  2013.