Opinion: Five reasons to make the switch to Windows 8

Even if you're happy with Windows XP or Windows 7, these five reasons might be enough to make you want to upgrade to Windows 8.

The clock is winding down to the official launch of Windows 8. With only a few weeks to go until Windows 8 hits the street, businesses and consumers will have to decide whether to invest in the latest Microsoft operating system, or just stick with what theyve got.

Perhaps you're not fazed by the Windows 8 Modern UI, or by Microsoft embracing the touchscreen interface. Even so, here are five reasons to consider making the move to Windows 8:

1. Bargain Price

Most people dont go out and buy Windows. The preferred method of upgrading for both small businesses and consumers is to acquire the latest operating system by attrition when its time to get a new PC. Of course, the price of purchasing Windows by itselfeven the discounted upgrade pricehas always been a deterrent as well.

With Windows 8, Microsoft is slashing the price to a mere $40, though. For anyone still running Windows XP, the upgrade to Windows 8 should be a no-brainer. Those who have already switched to Windows 7 have a reason to switch, too: Windows 8 performs better than Windows 7 even on existing hardware.

2. Staying in Sync

Microsoft developed Windows 8 with the cloud in mind. If you log in to Windows 8 using a Microsoft account, your apps and preferences are synced to the cloud. When you log in to Windows 8 on another system, those settings and preferences are downloaded as well so you get a consistent Windows 8 experience no matter where you are.

3. Refresh/Reset

Have you ever re-installed the Windows operating system as a troubleshooting tool, or just to try and get back to the clean, barebones operating system you had before it got all bogged down? Microsoft is making it much easier in Windows 8.

Refresh gets you a mostly fresh start. Your personal files and configuration settings are retained, along with any Modern UI apps from the Windows 8 app store. But, all other applications are removed, and Windows 8 is otherwise returned to default factory settings. A list of the removed software is placed on the desktop so you know whats missing and you can begin the process of re-installing them cleanly to try and isolate which program might have been causing you problems.

Reset is more drastic. Reset is a feature you might use if you want to decommission a system to re-provision to another user, or if you plan to sell or donate the PC. Reset wipes out everything and returns Windows 8 to the way it was out of the box so to speak.

4. Storage Spaces

Have you ever run out of space on your hard drive? It may not be as common as it once was thanks to 1TB and 2TB drives, but it can still happenespecially when storing mass amounts of digital photos or video clips.

Storage Spaces solves that dilemma by allowing you to group multiple drives under a single logical drive letter. If you start to run out of space, you could simply throw another USB hard drive on the system to expand your storage.

Of course, if a USB drive storing crucial data crashes, it could pose a problem. Windows 8 Storage Spaces has a solution for that as well. Microsoft employs a software-based RAID system to protect data and ensure that your data remains available even in the event of a hardware failure.

5. File History

Windows 8 has new tools to protect your important data from corruption or accidental changes or deletions. File History periodically scans file locations like Libraries, Desktop, Favorites, and Contacts to identify any changes.

File History stores a copy of the changed file in an alternate location designated by you. File History will maintain a complete history of the changes made to personal data over time. With File History, youll be able to go back in time and easily reverse any unwanted changes

Oh, and did I mention the bargain price? The $40 price tag is a temporary offer from Microsoft thats set to expire in January. Even if you already have Windows 7 and youre happy with it, you might want to spend the $40 on Windows 8 while you can and just file it away until you need it.

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Tony Bradley

PC World (US online)

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