Dick from Jo-Carroll Energy, Inc. writes to ask:

My wife and I follow your articles
and would appreciate your advice
on which desktop operating system might be best for us.

Currently, we have Windows XP and an old Dell computer. We have just learned that our bank will soon stop supporting any operating system less than Windows 7, so we will be replacing our old computer. Our computer is used to pay bills, transfer funds between accounts, receive e-statements, e-mail a lot (often with attachments) and for writing letters for mailing.

It’s important to my wife and I that Windows 8.1 not be too complicated to use. We have heard that Windows 8 requires relearning the computer system all over again because it is so different from Windows XP and 7.  Would your recommendation be that we go with Windows 8.1 to begin with?


Thank you for the e-mail. I always enjoy hearing from readers.

Let me tell you, your bank is absolutely doing the right thing now when it comes to ending support for computers running operating systems older than Windows 7. In fact, Microsoft has announced plans to discontinue support for Windows XP in April. So, that means no more security updates, which likely means repercussions for those who don’t switch. 

Of course, as you point out, you now have a decision to make: Windows 7 or 8? I’ll be up front about it and just tell you, I prefer Windows 8. 

And here’s why:

It’s faster. I’ve been using Windows 8 since it was released, and I can tell you, the boot up time is much faster. And, it’s not just boot up times. It runs the applications I use daily much faster as well. As I’m writing this article, I decided to do a test and booted up a Windows 7 machine I have, while simultaneously booting up a Windows 8 computer. Windows 8 was twice as fast! So, if you’re looking for a speed boost, then Windows 8 definitely wins.

It’s more secure. Don’t get me wrong; I will never say there is any such thing as a “totally secure” operating system. But, Microsoft has done a good job with Windows 8. It has built-in antivirus and for the first time in a long while, Internet Explorer actually did a good job with security as well. In a test by NSS Labs, Internet Explorer 10 browser detected and blocked over 99 percent of malicious downloads. That’s a pretty outstanding benchmark.

Touch! If you are considering a new computer, consider getting a hybrid/convertible PC. Think of them as laptops that can also be tablets. Windows 8 excels in the touchscreen world. I like the ability to switch back and forth between tablet mode and desktop mode. When you first purchase your computer, it’s going to start in a tile-based interface. While that interface does work with a keyboard and mouse, it’s optimized for use with touch-enabled screens. Personally, I use the desktop mode when I want to use a keyboard and mouse. When I’m using the touchscreen though, the tiles are much preferable.

Of course, I realize you have some misgivings about having to learn a new operating system. And, those misgivings aren’t unfounded. But keep in mind, there is a button on the tile menu that says “Desktop,” and that button will take you back to at least a somewhat familiar territory.

Next month, I’ll tell you about a few tools to make Windows 8 even more friendly!