Ask Juan: Should I Upgrade my Desktop (non-touchscreen) to Windows 8.1?

Screenshot (1)From one of our readers using our contact page:

Hey,I have an older quad core AMD desktop running Windows 7 and was going to put in a SSD. While I was doing that I thought maybe I should upgrade to Windows 8. I don’t have a touchscreen though, so I was curious if you thought that would be a good idea? Thanks, Alex

First of all, I run an older quad core in my workstation, and installing a solid state drive (specifically a Kingston HyperX) made my system feel brand new. I think you’ll really dig it.

The upgrade to Windows 8.1 is a slightly trickier question. It’s pretty obvious that Microsoft is using this new interface as their first attack on tablets and touchscreens. Microsoft’s job moving forward isn’t to “save” the PC market, but redefine the what a PC is. If you’ve read much on this site, you would know that I’ve been fairly positive on their progress so far.

Stepping outside the tablet-y stuff however, I think Windows 8 can offer up some benefits to non-touchscreen users as well.

First of all, boot times are seriously improved. The combo of Windows 8.1 and an SSD will feel like an absolute screamer compared to Windows 7 and a spinning disc hard drive. My low power Windows 8.1 ultrabook with an SSD cache boots in about half the time as my desktop did with Windows 7 and a proper SSD. My Lenovo absolutely destroys my Nexus 7 in a cold boot race.

windows 8_1 file transfer dialog boxSecond, I think Microsoft has made some solid improvements to file management. It’s not the sexiest aspect of an OS upgrade, but you get substantially more info when moving files, better estimates for completion, and the entire file browsing experience has been more stable. I would run into issues on Windows 7 with folders that had tons of files. As my computer would scan through creating thumbnails it would occasionally just get stuck on a file and never finish the scan. What ever file it would lag on would just become completely inaccessible, and I’d have to jump through CMD prompt nonsense to fix it. I haven’t had any issues like that with Win8.1 so far (knocks on wood).

Lastly, since we know you wont be using it with a touchscreen, Windows 8.1 returns the ability to boot directly to the desktop. You still have the new Modern/Metro start screen instead of a proper start menu, but I find adapting to that isn’t too rough a transition. Getting handy with keyboard shortcuts always makes Windows faster and easier to use, and the learning curve here really isn’t that steep.

Some issues which still need to be addressed, I still don’t love how Windows 8.1 handles multiple monitors. It’s much improved following this recent update, but it’s still a bit clumsy as Win8.1 treats the old school desktop as an app. I don’t like the mixed metaphor which can pop up when one monitor has live tiles and another has desktop up. Also, if you do a lot of advanced networking, Windows 8 simplified the networking options to such an extreme degree for “regular folks” that it can hamper setting up certain features for more tech savvy individuals.

For me personally, the improvements to speed and file management were enough to overcome the issues listed above. If you do decide to take the plunge, know there will be some teething pains as some features have moved around, but on the whole my experiences have been very positive and the learning curve wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.

Thanks for the question Alex! If you fine readers have tech issues like help sorting, or if you just want to tell us how awesome we are, hit up our contact page! If you enjoy these articles, reviews, and videos help us spread the word on your favorite social networks, many of which are probably located in the share buttons below!

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