Consumer Reports: Just Stick with Windows 7 For Now

Ouch. Consumer Reports is currently telling the spending public that they're better off not upgrading to Windows 8 for now, and to purchase a desktop or laptop with Windows 7 still installed if shopping for a new rig. The group names numerous reasons as to why consumers should avoid the touchy new OS, including a lack of touchscreen-based systems, quirky performance and more.

"Windows 7 generally received favorable reviews when it was released," Consumer Reports states. "A few years after its 2009 launch, there still haven't been a lot of complaints. If you've been happy with Windows 7 and even Windows XP up until now, there's no compelling reason to switch to Windows 8."

Donna L. Tapellini of Consumer Reports points out that Windows 8 is all about touch, and because there's a lack of touchscreen-based systems on the market, users will be reduced to using their mouse or touchpad. Without a touchscreen, reasons for upgrading from an older version or purchasing a new Windows 8 computer become less compelling, she said.

"Windows 8 doesn't have the familiar Start button for launching programs and shutting the system down," Tapellini adds. "Of course, it's not difficult to launch your applications from the Start screen with the Windows 8 tile interface. But then again, it's also not the same as clicking your Start button and seeing a list of programs. So if you prefer the old way, go with Windows 7."

She goes on to claim that drivers still need updating, that some Windows 8 models are still not performing as well as expected. "The need for vendors to update their Windows 8 drivers could explain the less-than-optimal performance," she added, seemingly backing up a previous report that Microsoft shipped Windows 8 half-baked and that it would catch up via patches post-release.

"You might be better off getting a Windows 7 computer for now, waiting for the dust to settle, and upgrading to Windows 8 later. Although we haven't yet noticed prices dropping on older Windows 7 models yet, there are still some Best Buys in our Ratings," Tapellini said.

One reason why consumers should upgrade to Windows 8 now is the cost, as the OS will be discounted for current Windows customers until the end of February. There are also lots of "under the hood" improvements despite claims of shifty drivers. As Tapellini points out, we're only two months into the release of Windows 8, and there's a lot of dust that needs to settle before the new OS will really shine for most customers.

As we've stressed in previous reports, there's really nothing to fear with Windows 8. Granted Microsoft and CEO Steve Ballmer have done nothing but shove the new interface in the face of every paying customer, the fact is that it can be shoved aside so that users can get back to the desktop they've come to know and love for years. There are small desktop interface changes that may throw many customers off – a lack of a Start menu being the largest hurdle – but eventually the new Windows will be unavoidable.

"If you are getting a touch screen and like the idea of using your computer in some ways that are similar to a tablet, Windows 8 could be for you," Tapellini said. "If you like the notion of "live" tiles that change as new e-mails or social-network updates come in, you'll appreciate the tile interface on Windows 8."

Consumer Reports has more than a dozen recommended laptops and four desktops for those interested in purchasing a new Windows 8 machine, all of which are listed here.

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  • killerclick
    Told you so, fanboys. Metro is dead, and not just on the desktop but everywhere.
  • soo-nah-mee
    This is getting ridiculous. There is no reason NOT to switch to Windows 8. Spend the $5 on Start8 by Stardock, and enjoy an updated and improved Windows 7 with the option of using the Start Screen.
    To basically tell people to buy an outdated system just so it comes with Windows 7 is insane IMO.
  • CaedenV
    *sigh* consumer reports are dumb. If you are purchasing a new machine then you want the current OS. This is not Vista where drivers were crippling, they are just win7 drivers, and typically work as well as they ever did on win7 but do not add the functionality that win8 could bring yet. Yes it is different, yes there is a learning curve, and yes pre-built boxes need better drivers (just one advantage of building your own rig), but none of those are such crippling issues that should keep you from picking 8 over 7 as none of those issues would even be noticeable to the average user. Besides, they will be fixed within a year or so, and one new features start coming out like better modernUI apps (really loving a few of them myself), cheap touch screens and other interface helpers like leapmotion and kinnect for PC, then you will be questioning your decision a year down the road.

    For people with existing computers... well that is an entirely other matter. If you see yourself using metro apps then absolutely upgade before he price increases in late January. Personally I upgraded and I love it, my wife loves it, my inlaws love it, and none of us even have a touch screen yet. But it is definitely not for everyone.
  • besplatan
    Wholeheartedly agree with Consumer Reports in this case. I've used every version since the Developer Preview and the entire concept of smartphone UI on a desktop is wrong in a way that can't be fixed.
  • bdcrlsn
    There's a free program out there called ClassicShell that restores all Win7 functionality to Win8.
  • rantoc
    The big fail is that you STILL cant default boot into desktop without having to resort to any number or more or less sophisticated hacks... is that how a brand new os is supposed to be?

    1 billion lines of code but MS can't be bothered to add a simple default boot type selector for those that dont want metro on their desktop computers. It only proves how little they care about what the customers want (like in every other ms os...)
  • hannibal
    So they tell that win8 is different than win7... Sherlock...
  • dameon51
    Apple release a new product with barely any changes, the whole world gobbles it up and throws away their "old" (1 year old) electronics.
    Microsoft releases a new product, with lots of enhancements, everyone freaks out and burns them at the stake. I've been using Windows 8 in a gaming and product environment since day one. It isn't amazing, but there's no reason to TRY to skip it either. It's a solid OS and a logical step forward from windows 7.

    It's just a branding and marketing game, and the people have decided with their wallets who the winner is.
  • xaephod
    I used Win8 in beta...and it was bad. Not bad as in "Ohh thats bad!" Which can be a compliment. Its actually "Oh god, that's bad!" which is what you say when you smell a dirty diaper.
  • killerclick
    rantoc1 billion lines of code but MS can't be bothered to add a simple default boot type selector for those that dont want metro on their desktop computers.
    This was by design. There was a simple registry hack in the first version that restored the Start Menu completely, but Microsoft actually made an effort to remove it. What they tried to do is force Windows users to use Metro, hoping that would lead them to other Windows devices with the Metro UI (phones, tablets, etc). Plus, Microsoft gets a nice 30% cut from all Metro app sales, so no wonder they were trying to kill the desktop as soon as possible.

    So happy they failed.

    bdcrlsnThere's a free program out there called ClassicShell that restores all Win7 functionality to Win8.
    I've tried every such program I could find, bought Start8 as well, and none of them work properly, all have various annoying issues. Besides, why do that at all? The only thing Windows 8 has over Windows 7 is faster boot time, and that's only noticeable if you use a spinning disk as a boot drive.