Why you should definitely upgrade to Windows 8 (or not)

Forget what you’ve heard. Microsoft’s most radically redesigned version of Windows is often brilliant and improves upon Windows 7--even if you don’t own a touchscreen. But, still, it’s not for everyone.

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  • The ability to easily reset or restore your PC, with just a click. The basic reset keeps all your docs and settings intact, while bringing Windows 8 back to a like-new installation.
  • Storage spaces. One of the coolest new features is Windows’ new ability to manage drives (internal and external) as if they were one. It creates redundancy and helps protect against drive failure (an all-too-common occurrence).
  • Better file copying. You can now pause and monitor file operations with much more detail.
  • File History The new file history tool saves versions of your files (everything in your Libraries, Desktop, Favorites, and Contacts folders) so you can quickly revert if needed. (This is kind of like Mac OS X’s Timeline feature.)
  • Better multi-monitor controls If you have more than one display, you can now configure each one individually.
  • Account syncing When you log on using your Windows Live account, Windows 8 can sync your settings, including app settings.
  • Security enhancements Windows 8 adds a “Secured Boot” feature which prevents malware from starting before the system has started up. It also comes with antivirus built-in.

All of these are good reasons to upgrade--particularly the performance boosts, easy reset/restore, file history and storage spaces--plus the traditional Windows 7 desktop is still there if you want it. It's just one Windows key press away.

All that said, while Windows 8 is mostly enjoyable and fast to use, it is rough around the edges. Sometimes files opened in the desktop open in their Metro-styled apps (a jarring experience). Metro apps themselves are disappointingly not nearly as powerful as their desktop counterparts (though that works in some cases where all you want in a simple screen). It takes much getting used to.

If you’re up for it, though, you can enjoy some very cool new features in Windows--while still accessing the old traditional desktop view whenever you prefer.

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