Consumer Reports recommends Windows 7 in most circumstances

By on December 19, 2012, 10:53 AM

Consumer Reports recently weighed the pros and cons of upgrading to Windows 8 and came to the conclusion that it’s probably best in most circumstances to stick with Windows 7 or even buy a new machine running Microsoft’s previous iteration of Windows. They offer plenty of reasons to back up their advice, too.

The publication points out that Windows 7 was generally well-received when it launched in 2009 and there still haven’t been a ton of complaints about it. For this reason alone, they say if you have been happy with Windows 7 or even Windows XP, there’s no compelling reason to upgrade to Windows 8 just yet.

The magazine also highlights the fact that Windows 8 is primarily geared towards touch. In the event that you don’t have a touch-based system or aren’t buying a new computer with a touchscreen, the reasons to pick up Microsoft’s latest become less compelling. Sure, you can still use a Windows 8 system with a mouse / trackpad but that’s not the initial instinct, they say.

Furthermore, and perhaps most obvious… if you don’t like change, then you probably won’t want to upgrade. Consumer Reports cites the missing Start button as a key example of things that have either been removed or are different in Windows 8.

Finally, driver maturity is called into play in the article. There are a bevy of drivers that haven’t been updated just yet which could lead to instability or in a worse-case scenario, the inability to use a program or peripheral at all. Windows 7, of course, doesn’t have this issue as developers have been coding drivers for it for several years now.

It’s not all doom and gloom for Windows 8 in the eyes of Consumer Reports, however. If you do plan to get a touch-based computer, Windows 8 might be for you. Also, if you like the idea of live tiles that update based on new emails or social network updates then they say you will probably appreciate the Windows 8 UI.




User Comments: 31

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VitalyT VitalyT said:

compelling reason to upgrade to Windows 8 just yet

I don't think there ever will be. By the time the market finds real need in a touch-based Windows, version 9 will be out of the door.

This is per MS road-map also.

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Hoo boy - I'd love to be a fly on the wall at Microsoft's "War Room" as they try and dig themselves out of the considerable marginal to bad press they're getting on Win 8.

Guest said:

If you have a learning disability and can't learn new tricks stick with Win 7. Win 7 is actually excellent but didn't win 8 also improve on the internals?

NTAPRO NTAPRO said:

I tried windows 8 for a few minutes when I went to best buy a couple of days ago. I felt stupid because I didn't know how to exit youtube and somehow pulled up some windows calendar xD

I like touch screen monitors more than touch screen phones though

Now if only it had fruit ninja on it...

cmbjive said:

Hoo boy - I'd love to be a fly on the wall at Microsoft's "War Room" as they try and dig themselves out of the considerable marginal to bad press they're getting on Win 8.

I don't if the press is so bad than that the press is so indifferent to Windows 8. Windows 8 is not that bad and I like using it as my OS but truthfully I could have easily gotten Windows 7 and just be as satisfied.

Guest said:

It does have Fruit Ninja... and Angry Birds. Okay back to work.

Guest said:

I think you're all wrong windows eight is very intuitive if you're willing to change to learn new commands it is very powerful and easy to use the command themselves for the mouse gestures and the keyboard shortcuts

Guest said:

I agree. As a power-user I was a bit turned off by Windows 8 at first, until I realized how many new features it packs in. And surprisingly, I don't find a need for the old Start menu anymore with the new one. Plus, as an Ubuntu user, I'm already used to typing the first few letters of an application to bring it up rather than searching through a menu anyway. It saves a lot of frustration.

Guest said:

I'll admit that I had to google how to close an app and how to turn the computer off, but once you know you know and it is quite easy. Not knowing something does not make the OS worse. I'm pretty sure OSX is a nice OS but I'm also pretty sure that I'm not that good at using it.

NTAPRO NTAPRO said:

I had a few minutes of fun trying to figure out windows 8. Probably could've used it a little if I wasn't there for other business

ikesmasher said:

Touch screen vs mouse:

speed of moving hand 6 inches to press button vs speed of moving hand one inch to press button

Guest said:

Microsoft's biggest mistake, as has been pointed out by others, is that they didn't give XP/7 users the opportunity to transition over to 8 vis-a-vis a toggle switch or option to switch from classic to 8.

Also, while some don't miss the start menu button, many find its absence an anathema--like wearing shoes without socks. MS needs an SP upgrade pronto.

MilwaukeeMike said:

MS is trying to break a cardinal rule of business... If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Windows 8 should have been called Windows Metro and marketed as a new kind of OS, not an upgrade. If they want the masses to use it as the true successor to Win 7, they should have the entire Metro interface as UI option to enable or disable.

2 people like this | Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I think you're all wrong windows eight is very intuitive if you're willing to change to learn new commands it is very powerful and easy to use the command themselves for the mouse gestures and the keyboard shortcuts

Which, as was pointed out in the article, was one of the reasons NOT to move to 8. If you don't like change, or don't want to change, there is not enough compelling reasons to move up from 7 to 8. A brand new user who has very little prior exposure or operational time with Windows is (in my opinion) an absolute prime candidate for Windows 8. Particularly if they are a current-gen Windows Phone user. But, let's face it, the number of "virgin" users coming to market is a pittance when compared to the number of current Windows users.

I think that, since this is a tech site that (typically) tech-savvy readers visit, we tend to lose sight of the fact that we are in the minority when it comes to the total PC consumer base. I know many people who struggled for years, often close to giving up, just to finally come to grips with how classic Windows works. It's not that they are mentally challenged or anything, it's just often harder for non-techies to easily pick up some of the abstract concepts in computer operation.

Those struggling users often balk at minor upgrades, sweat out greater upgrades, and pray the learning curve is pretty flat. With the XP-Vista-7 upgrade path, the UI remained largely the same, with most of the real changes happening behind the scenes. Teaching someone who cut their teeth on Windows XP how to operate Windows 7 does not take long, but can still be a frustrating struggle until they get the idiosyncracies down. Show those people Windows 8, and they freak out as they contemplate the struggles they are in for, learning such a new and foreign layout. Change is not always welcomed. Even if it is a pretty darn cool concept (live tiles), and colorful to boot.

Now, consider that typical everyday users vastly outnumber those of us that know what we're doing. And look at how divided just us "know-it-alls" and "experts" are over the usefulness of Windows 8. Compound the general personal user's struggle with larger support and training considerations for things like IT departments and corporations in general... Consider the implications beyond just your general "you're all wrong, I like it" viewpoint. You may find that your (and my) opinion carries very little weight, in the grand scheme of things.

2 people like this | amstech amstech, TechSpot Enthusiast, said:

I think you're all wrong windows eight is very intuitive if you're willing to change to learn new commands it is very powerful and easy to use the command themselves for the mouse gestures and the keyboard shortcuts

I can tell you that a comment like this is coming from a very unexperienced point of view.

And what about teaching hundreds of physicians, transcriptionists, doctors, accountants, coders, billers, interns, cardiologists, lab/nursing users, pharmacists, security personal, etc etc etc.

I work at a hospital as an IT tech, and we deal with all types of equipment, medcarts, wireless devices, handhelds, PDAs, all sorts of employee's from a wide range of skill, from people who have trouble signing into a simple domain enviroment, to users that know much more. It is hard enough getting older programs to work with newer systems and vice versa, and maintaining a constant enviroment so certain users can login and use different PC's without needing much training. I haven't even begun to tell you about the certain requirements of the more advanced software (Fusion/Voicebrook/Medhost) and how difficult it is to trouble-shoot and explain to some users. I won't even mention specialized programs and equipment.

Windows 8 has introduced so many issues when it comes to implementing it in our enviroment, I dont even know where to start. From a business point of view and looking at the significant changes this OS presents and dealing with the stuff we do now, there is much more to consider and this tablet OS is not going to plug and play.

Windows 8 was admittedly rushed by Microsoft because Google has been making strides and Apple is taking over the world. Microsoft thinks it can still tell people what to do and force hardware/software like they did for the last 20 years.

SCJake said:

I got my first 2 break ins to 8 and I have come up with this.

Installing a start menu application is nice, as you can still get to metro, should you ever need it, via bottom right of screen then going up to "Start".

Touch interface - nothing better, DONT install a start menu.

Apps tied to MS account. Sorry microsoft, but you screwed the pooch on this one. Too many people (BUSINESSES!!) dont want to have a Mapple$oft account tracking their every move.

The basic user who only uses it for facebook, nitwitter, news, and some other things will LOVE win8 on a touch enabled laptop, but the need for a mouse/trackpad is so vital to an office based computing world that they really messed up by forcing metro instead of an option.

P.S. Ninite has now added a win8 start menu to its download for anyone else who uses it

Chazz said:

..........You may find that your (and my) opinion carries very little weight, in the grand scheme of things.

I agree with what you said up until this statement. We as the "tech guys" or "enthusiast" surely are the ones our family and friends come to for advice, help, guidance and any other tech related issue. I've had to teach several people how to do simple tasks like scan their computer. I kinda feel it is our job to get these guys up to speed. I shudder when I go to a relatives house and they're using IE6 and do everything in my power to change that behavior.

The more these guys learn new things in the computer world the easier it is for them to adapt in the future. It's a pain in the rear, but I'd rather these guys be reasonably(by novice standards) knowledgeable about computers, in a time where everything personal gets entered, shared and submitted in some way. If you consider windows 8, OSX(or anyone new version of a OS) to be more secure or in some way beneficial to them I think they should be taught.

It's very sad how little people know and how much of their sensitive information they put on their computers. Our opinions actually carry a lot of weight in the little circle of people that we know, and I think more of us should make an effort to throw that weight around a little.

Littleczr Littleczr said:

Hoo boy - I'd love to be a fly on the wall at Microsoft's "War Room" as they try and dig themselves out of the considerable marginal to bad press they're getting on Win 8.

Here is what I would say in that "War Room". Start Button! gentlemen, option for a start button and improve the windows 8 UI look and feel. This meeting is now over.

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

It's very sad how little people know and how much of their sensitive information they put on their computers. Our opinions actually carry a lot of weight in the little circle of people that we know, and I think more of us should make an effort to throw that weight around a little.

You are very right, I just didn't convey my sentiments correctly... If we said nothing, then nothing would change (or improve)... I think that statement I made was more of an annoyed reaction to the "you're all wrong and I'm right, cause I like it" drive-by commenting that we get from guests. There's just often way too much spouting of very narrow scope opinion without considering the big picture, which was what I was trying to get across. I meant it to be more something like this: If you and I and a few others like Windows 8, but 99.8% of the user population don't like it or don't want it, how much of a dent will our personal preferences make?

Guest said:

I was scared of Windows 8 too because of all the touch features. But after upgrading from 7 and using Windows 8 for a couple of weeks, you couldn't pay me to go back to 7. I'm spoiled now. I actually started working from home more because my office doesn't have Windows 8 yet and I can get more work done on 8. That's my two cents. Take it or leave but Windows 8 is the future.

LinkedKube LinkedKube, TechSpot Project Baby, said:

I almost feel that windows 8 is worse than windows vista in the PR aspect.

Hank10156 said:

I used both beta pre versions of Windows 8 then purchased a product key for Windows 8 Pro 64 bit. I went back to Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64 bit because I just think W8 Pro is just plain ugly. There's nothing wrong with it's performance except many apps and programs are incompatible or run poorly under it. I just got sooo tired of those silly tiles..

I wiped my hard drive and reinstalled W7 with my CD and it was so nice to get back to aeroglass and the most aesthetically pleasing windows based OS ever designed.

Bottom line, W8 is just plain ugly. W7 is the most beautiful OS ever designed.

Like many others I'll probably keep my W7 until Windows 09 arrives.

Guest said:

Why do people keep crying over the start menu when you can download several alternatives

TorturedChaos, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I agree with Vrmithrax. It gets hard to teach an old dog new tricks, and switching even a small business over to Win8 and trying to re-train all your employees is a PITA!

I have enough trouble training people on how to check email, download the customers file from the email, print said file, and call the customer - All using an OS they are semi-familiar with.

Win XP/Vista/7 all have about the same UI. I don't know if I will ever want to switch the business over to Win8 and try to train people on its interface.....

MrBungle said:

I was scared of Windows 8 too because of all the touch features. But after upgrading from 7 and using Windows 8 for a couple of weeks, you couldn't pay me to go back to 7. I'm spoiled now. I actually started working from home more because my office doesn't have Windows 8 yet and I can get more work done on 8. That's my two cents. Take it or leave but Windows 8 is the future.

Nice to see the MS spin machine is aware of techspot...

Guest said:

MilwaukeeMike, I am sure that the buggy-whip makers and Kodak silver-halide group felt the same way. It is not a cardinal rule to not break convention.

Butch said:

I bought Win8 and used it for a few weeks and then went back to Win7. The reason is purley that I am a gamer and some of the games I play don't work on Win8. Other than that I didn't have any issues with it. In fact, I liked it. However, I did download and install StarDock's Start Menu app and spent most of my time in the standard desktop, not in Metro. I have a MS Surface and a Nokia 920 Windows 8 phone as well and I can tell you that MS has come closer to making my tablet, PC and phone all work together. Some very cool stuff is built-in. I add a bookmark on my browser and it's on my Surface and my phone automatically. I change the theme or background on my Surface and it propogates to my PC and vice-versa. It's closer to bringing all platforms together than anyone else and SkyDrive is awesome! It works better than DropBox, iCloud or Box combined. I think that MS has a winning solution here as long as they get the little kinks worked out (and they will with updates). If you are thinking of switching, I recommend staying with Win7 on your desktop, but the Surface and Win8 Phones are soooo much better than IOS and Android when you use Windows PC's. Just my two cents...

Lurker101 said:

So, big announcement then? Win8 crappy for desktops, not so bad for touchscreen.

Is Consumer Reports regulated by the Bureau of the Bleeding Obvious?

Guest said:

For those of you who are miffed at the lack of a start button, there's the windows key directly under your "z" key. I suggest you actually give Windows 8 a good chance. It takes about 20 minutes to learn the new controls, and another 40 or so to get used to them, but once you get used to them, it's a solid OS that supports a lot more than you would assume. And yes, angry birds and fruit ninja both have windows apps. Now, is it worthy of an upgrade? Probably only if you're upgrading your computer anyway, or once it's caught on. But that was true of Win 7 when it came out.

Guest said:

What is Consumer Reports advice on Apple giving incremental updates in the form of a new product in 6 months.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Now, is it worthy of an upgrade? Probably only if you're upgrading your computer anyway, or once it's caught on. But that was true of Win 7 when it came out.
The truth of Vista and Windows 7, they actually required a pretty hefty hardware upgrade to give of their best. . XP's requirements are much lower than either one. So, you actually did need to buy a new machine for Vista or Win 7. Especially in light of the fact that manufacturers of existing peripherals were dropping the, "writing drivers for the new OS", ball.

When you come right down to it, this Win 8 garbage was shoveled out the door almost before a full Intel, "tic, tock cycle", occurred.

Ostensibly, (and arguably) Win 8 should not only run on hardware suited to Vista & Win 7 but should flourish, and possibly outperform either OS.

With that said, M$ has been making really stupid decisions. For example, hiring the same consultants as Apple, to "modernize" their logo. Money well spent, at least from Apple's point of view.

I shortcut virtually everything on my machines. So, I don't need the crap-a** toy block "Metro" interface, in order to relate to my computer as though it's a cell phone.

Nor am I at the mercy of the start button. I still like to post my photos as wallpaper, I like the task bar upgrade in Win 7. I like everything about the Windows 7 desktop.

As far as, "not giving Windows 8 a chance", I gave it the chance I believe it's worth. Which is none at all.

As for all the proponents of touch interface, are you really going to sit in front of a $400.00 IPS screen, and do all your work by smearing your fingers all over it. Again, I pass!

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