How to best upgrade from Windows XP – Tech Daily debate

Windows Xp

The end of Windows XP is nigh. We debate which version of Windows to upgrade to next, Windows 7 or Windows 8.

After 12 years of existence, Microsoft is finally pulling the plug on Windows XP on April 8. After then, the operating system will no longer receive security updates – rendering it much more liable to viruses and malware. Unfortunately, the only solution to this problem is to spend some money and upgrade to a new version of Windows. But which one do you choose?

Our Which? Tech Daily writers Rob Leedham and Mike Plant have differing opinions on whether you should upgrade to Windows 7 or Windows 8. Here they debate the merits of both operating systems.

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‘Just like New Coke, few people want Windows 8′ – Mike

Mike Plant bylineWindows 8 might be the latest thing but, like New Coke before it, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better than its predecessor. Switching between the Start screen and the Windows 8 desktop can be confusing, and that’s a situation made worse by Microsoft’s introduction of apps. If you have to make the upgrade from Windows XP – I’d avoid this hassle and find yourself a copy of Windows 7.

‘Windows 7 is quickly gathering dust’ – Rob

Rob Leedham profile imageI do understand why you’d want to stick with what you know, Mike – Windows 8’s apps and different modes take a while to get used to. That said, I’m less sure why you’d want to upgrade from XP to a platform that’s constantly improving (Windows 8) or quickly gathering dust (Windows 7).

Since Windows 8 launched 18 months ago, it has already received a major update in Windows 8.1 and further enhancements are expected soon as Microsoft’s so-called ‘Project Threshold’ rumbles ever on. Simply put, Windows 8 is the priority for Microsoft and every major PC software manufacturer.

‘Windows 7 still works, and that’s good enough for me’ – Mike

Mike Plant bylineThat may be the case, but Windows 7 still works – and isn’t that what’s most important? It’s simplicity itself to use, especially if you’re upgrading from Windows XP. It has the same layout and menu system making it the natural, familiar choice for those who don’t want, or don’t have the time, to learn a new operating system all over again.

I’d rather avoid the hassle caused by such unnecessary design choices as releasing two versions of many popular programs – an app version, and a normal version. Take Outlook and Internet Explorer which ‘benefit’ from such treatment, so causing me to have to shuffle back and forth between both versions.

‘Classic Shell and Windows 8, a great compromise’ – Rob

Rob Leedham profile imageHaving lived with Windows 8, I really don’t mind it. Thanks to those apps, all the programs I want to use immediately are available on my Start screen. Plus, the desktop screen is still there if I ever get nostalgic. Honestly, it took about a week to get used to switching between the two screens – now it’s second nature.

And, for Windows XP users who are nervous about making that jump, I’d recommend the free to download Classic Shell, which smooths the transition even further.

‘I’m happy to wait for a better Windows 8′ – Mike

Mike Plant bylineI see where you’re coming from, Rob, but for my money, I’d rather hold-off on upgrading until Microsoft releases yet another operating system that bridges the gap between 7 and 8 entirely. Windows 8 to me is going nowhere quickly, so who’s to say that Windows 8 really does have a future any longer than that of Windows 7?

‘The PC era is over, time to embrace change’ – Rob

Rob Leedham profile imageDeferring from Windows 8 on that basis is a bit like King Canute trying to hold back the tide. The PC era is over, and tablets, hybrids and all-in-ones are now conquering the new computing landscape. Bearing this in mind, a return to the old traditional desktop-style Windows just won’t happen. I really do think its better to embrace the change and its benefits right now by upgrading to Windows 8.

More on this

The demise of Windows XP – Which? Tech podcast
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115 replies

  1. I am overjoyed that pc world don’t sell Linux, probably because as a free OS, they can hardly build a margin around it

    The very concept of a salesforce underqualified to describe the selling points of a toaster or kettle, having access to an OS with command line instruction, would fill most competent users with dread

    They have the gall to charge £85 to backup PCs under warranty, before restoring the unit to factory settings, is an outrage

    pc world regularly lose customer data, applications & even hardware, their technical support is puerile, and their service is abysmal

  2. i do not like windows 8 it is a nightmair let us stay with windows 7
    i notice al these shops have only windows 8 you have no choice –its ok for these brainy kids but it is very hard -i can never find were im going or find my curser grrrrrr

    1. If you can find the Windows control tool in Windows 8, then you can apply all the normal Windows enhancements for making the mouse cursor more visibile, including making it bigger, changing its colour, adding “mouse trails” and sending in “ripples” when you press the CTRL key.

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