My current home PC runs Windows XP. It has served me well for almost 8 years. I have used Linux in the past, but always as a secondary OS. I do plan on upgrading to 64-bit hardware in the New Year, but wanted to look at Windows 8 before building it up. If I'm going to buy top-of-the-line cutting edge hardware, I want something decent to run on it that will last the life of the PC. Seems there are a lot of folks out there touting Windows 8 as a viable upgrade. I have a couple of licenses to use at work and have spent the last three weeks reviewing it.

Windows 8 is designed to run on PC's, tablets and phones. As such, it tries to be a Jack of all trades and ends up being a master of none. Indeed, Windows 8 is a string of small annoyances that build up over time to totally frustrate the user. After the initial install, there is no username, you have to enter an email address to log on. This irks me as I suspect this gets sent to Microsoft for their use and their partners. I used my spam email account for that, but not everyone has one. Once logged in, the desktop interface is not intuitive and even when you are on the "Desktop" you really aren't. (Note to Microsoft. If you have to give animated demo's to show people how to access the desktop features, it isn't intuitive enough.)

Icons are no longer used, instead they replaced them with large tiles. These tiles for Facebook, email, photos, apps, Office, weather (plus a bunch of other crap I will never use) are spread out more than the width of the screen. Now, this is just with a base install. Adding more programs will make this issue much worse over time. This type of setup would work on a touch sensitive screen like a tablet or phone, you can slide over with your finger and voila. However, on a PC it becomes ungainly to use a mouse to navigate back and forth. I use a 24" 1920 x 1080 monitor and the tiles are still off the screen! When you open a new program it goes full screen with a lot of wasted space. There is no Start button anymore and accessing a program list is again, not intuitive.

The home screen in Windows 8 looks childish. All of the tiles share common colors and blend together so you end up scanning all of them to find what you want. Blah, just blah.

So after diddling with Windows 8 in both virtual and actual hardware, I have decided to put (pause for dramatic effect) Windows 7 on my new PC. Microsoft will be supporting Windows 7 until Jan 14, 2020 and honestly as an IT professional that deadline does not worry me. Windows 7 is a 64-bit multi-core OS with traditional desktop and relatively intuitive design. If Microsoft follows past trends then Windows 9 will correct the more egregious errors of Windows 8, but honestly I am looking at non-Windows alternatives for future consideration. Beyond email and web browsing, I use my PC for two things; writing and gaming. I wrote my last novel on Google Docs so there is little need to have MS Office. However, if needed I can get LibraOffice for free which handles Office document formats (http://www.libreoffice.org/). As for gaming, 85% of my games are bought through VALVe's Steam store. I'm waiting for the rumored SteamBox from VALVe to come out (http://store.steampowered.com/). At that point, my games will be available through that device and I'll no longer be tied to a Windows based PC. I'll probably go with a Linux OS at that point.

As the web becomes more accessible, there are multiple operating systems available, many at zero cost. Computer users now have a choice they did not have several years ago. You no longer need to be tied to Microsoft's IE. Mozilla's Firefox and Google's Chrome are perfectly usable browsers, modifiable and FREE. There are many more choices out there, they are the more popular at the moment. As Cloud computing evolves, there is less emphasis on the operating system. Before you invest in a great deal of frustration, look at alternatives and make an informed decision.