I’ve told a few people that I don’t really see any advantage to Windows 8 over Windows 7. I have to eat my words now.
Before I put Windows 8 on my four-year-old HP laptop, I checked with HP to make sure that it was 8‑compatible, and they said it was. AFTER I did the upgrade, I learned that they aren’t putting any Windows 8 drivers out for it! So some of the hardware functions don’t work properly. The hardware manufacturers say, “We only deal with HP, go to them.” Now, I was dual booting with Win7 anyway but hadn’t actually booted into Win7 on the system until this week. And dang, it’s slow in comparison, even with the proper drivers. I thought that maybe dual booting was partly to blame — not likely, but maybe.
Because of issues with my employer’s software, I’ve decided to dedicate the laptop as a work-only computer, and that means it has to run Win7. I’m finishing up a clean install of Win7, then I’ll image it, and every time the work stuff causes a problem, I can recover and move on quickly. Anyway — I was right. Before I blew away the Win8 partition (recently upgraded to 8.1), I timed how long it took to boot. I just timed the boot on the clean Win7 install. Even though I had been using Win8 for maybe six months, without all the proper drivers, it boots three times as quickly as Win7. (Both OSs are Pro-64 bit versions.) For what it’s worth, I am booting from an SSD with both — that, of course, makes more of a difference than ANY other upgrade.
So yes, Windows 8 IS a positive difference on a system that can handle it. I haven’t found anything that I can’t do compared to Windows 7 (except access my employer’s VPN, and that’s due to their restrictions). I do find the lack of the start menu to be a nuisance, but it’s easily fixed with the addition of Classic Shell or one of the many other utilities designed to fix that problem. I am told that Windows 8 does not play well with virtual machines if that’s important to you.
I don’t have a touch screen and haven’t missed it. I never use the Metro interface for anything, and I’m wholly unimpressed with the native Win8 applications. I don’t like the app store. I don’t need my computer to be like a phone or tablet, but it seems that’s where things are converging.