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How to decide if you need Windows 8

With last month’s release of Windows 8, lots of PC users have been wondering whether they need to upgrade. While a decision will depend on each user’s individual circumstances, there are 7 questions you can ask yourself that will help you make a rational decision.

1. Did you download the beta version of Windows 8?

If you weren’t one of the millions of people who downloaded one of the preview versions of Windows 8, then we can assume that you are not a developer, a network administrator, a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, or just someone with plenty of time on their hands. If you didn’t even know there was a preview version available for download, then it’s a safe bet to say that you probably don’t need it – yet. (Although, see question 5 below.)

2. Will you be buying a new PC within the next two years?

The overwhelming majority of new PCs and laptops are already being sold with Windows 8 pre-installed. If you think you will be buying new equipment within the next 18 months to 2 years, then you can probably wait for your Windows 8 initiation until then. You will save money and can learn all about Windows 8 at the same time you are learning all the other features of your brand new machine.

3. Are you thinking of buying a Surface tablet?

This is an interesting one. Microsoft’s new Surface tablet will be running Windows RT, a version of Windows 8 that has been optimized for tablets and ultra-light touchscreen PCs. If you are planning on building a personal Windows ecosystem with a PC, tablet and maybe even a Windows Phone, then it might make perfect sense to upgrade your PC to ensure a consistent operating environment.

4. Are you a power user?

If you are a power user, then it’s quite possible that you said “yes” to question 1 above and are already familiar with Windows 8. If that’s not the case, and you still feel you are maxing out your current Windows 7 machine, then an upgrade starts to become more attractive. Windows 8 will expand your world beyond the desktop and incorporate all your mobile and cloud-based activities into the Windows experience. If you are truly ready for the next step in computing, then Windows 8 is for you.

5. Are you still using Vista or Windows XP?

If you are still a Windows Vista, or more likely, a Windows XP holdout, then it could be time to drag yourself into 2012 and get an upgrade. Besides, you can skip the learning curve that’s required for Windows 7 and throw yourself straight into the deep end of Windows 8. But first, you need to make sure that your creaky old desktop or notebook can run Windows 8. If the answer is “no”, then see question 2 above.

6. Are you part of a larger network?

In contemplating a move to Windows 8, you also have to consider the environment in which you work. If you are a stand-alone, home-office businessperson, then what you do with your own operating system will probably not effect anyone else. If you are part of a larger, integrated network, then you need to consult your colleagues first. The last thing you want is to operate in an unsupported environment with all the technical and security issues that can pose.

7. Is it worth it?

Finally, you need to decide if Windows 8 is worth the money. If you are interested in upgrading, Microsoft is offering a limited-time download price for Windows 8 Pro of $39.99. Alternatively, you can have Windows 8 Pro shipped to you for $69.99.

Whatever you decide, Windows 8 is clearly the future for PC users. We will all get there eventually. As with most technologically innovative products, it’s just a question of when.

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