Five ways to avoid Windows 8

Five ways to avoid Windows 8

Summary: By year's end, Windows 8 is going to be on every new PC around. You won't have to use it though. Here are five ways to skip getting trapped on the Windows 8 Metro.

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You don't have to get on Windows 8 s Metro ride.

You don't have to get on Windows 8's Metro ride.

Some people are still sure Windows 8 is going to be the cat's meow. I'm sure Windows 8 and its Metro interface will be more like a cat's yowl of pain. The more I look at Metro, the more I'm sure that Microsoft's new desktop will flop as badly as the Facebook IPO.

It's not just me. Business analysts, who couldn't care less about technology but care a lot about what customers think, are saying things like "Windows 8 will prove to be a disappointment."

Windows users who were already unhappy about having to learn Metro, which doesn't work or look a thing like Vista and Windows 7's Aero interface never mind XP's familiar appearance, are finding out there's more trouble ahead for them. Windows 8 will cost more at launch to upgrade to from Windows 7. DVD playback and media-center functionality will now be an extra-price option.

Oh as for Metro-friendly applications, here's what Matthew Baxter-Reynolds, an independent software development consultant, speaker, author, and trainer and all around Windows guru who's writing the book "Programming Windows 8 Apps with C#" had to say: "does Metro actually work? In my opinion: No."

I don't care if your most prized possession is an autographed copy of Bill Gates' The Road Ahead, you have got to be wary of moving to Windows 8. So what can you do to avoid, or at least delay, the day you have to start using it?

1. Stick with Windows XP

OK, so your PC is getting a little older, but it's still working isn't it? According to some estimates, most PC users are still using XP. Certainly hundreds of millions of users are still using it. If it's not broke, why fix it?

Well, there is one reason: On April 8, 2014, Microsoft says it will officially end support for XP--and Office 2003 while they're at it. Of course, Microsoft has extended XP's life support before. Today, they swear they wouldn't do it again. But, if say 20% of users still have XP running in their PCs in 2014… well let's just say I won't be surprised if Microsoft has a change of heart.

2. Stick with Windows 7 or move to it

So, let's say its 2012's holiday season and all the new PCs are coming out with Windows 8, what do you do? You don't ask, you demand, Windows 7 instead.

Yes, I'm a Linux guy, but if you really want Windows, and I know most of you do, Windows 7 SP 1 is easily the best version of Windows to date. Yes, it's not the same as XP. There is a learning curve. On the other hand, while it's not as safe as Linux, Windows 7 is a lot more secure than XP. There are also plenty of useful, easy to-use tools to move your XP data and applications to Windows 7.

3. Move to a Linux or Mac Desktop

Since Microsoft wants to force a radical change on you, why not really make a change and move to Linux or a Mac? The Linux desktop is great for both power users and for users who just need a computer for the basics. Specifically, I think XP users will find Linux Mint with the Cinnamon interface to be inviting. And, Ubuntu 12.04's Unity interface is much easier to use than Metro. Heck, my 80-year old mother-in-law is a successful Ubuntu user!

Macs, of course, are Macs. They're pricy, you're locked into Apple's hardware and software in ways that Steve Ballmer can only dream about, and, and, gosh they're pretty and easy to use. Well, easy to use so long as you do exactly what Apple thinks you should be doing anyway.

4. Move to the cloud with Google's Chrome OS.

Chrome OS hasn't really caught on yet, but I think Google's Chrome OS is a real alternative to Windows for many users. It's not so much Chrome OS itself, it's the whole concept of being able to use a Web browser and the cloud for everything you need to do and that you want to do instead of a fat client desktop operating system.

Think about what you're doing today. Web-browsing, e-mail, IM, VoIP, maybe using Google Docs, whatever, how much of that actually requires that you use a local application? If 99% of what you're doing on your computer can be done on the Web, what more than you really need than the Chrome Web browser, or-and there's the point--an operating system like Chrome OS, which is just the Chrome Web browser running on a barebones Linux structure?

5. Use an iPad or Android tablet instead.

Microsoft really wants people to switch to Windows 8, and its close cousin Windows RT smartphones and tablets. I'm not holding my breath. I actually think Windows 8/Metro on Intel actually makes sense--Windows RT, which doesn't have Active Directory support, not so much. Metro looks and works better on a tablet than it ever will on a desktop. There's just this one little problem: People love iPads and they're getting fonder of the Android tablets with their lower price tags. If I were a Microsoft fan, I'd worry if there's any room left in the market for a Windows 8 tablet.

At the same time, as Microsoft is painfully aware, tablets are becoming popular as desktop replacements. As ZDNet's own James Kendrick points out, "It is now possible to get a full day's work from almost anywhere, without compromise," on a tablet.

So, come the day you go to a Best Buy and all you see is Windows 8 PCs from one end of the store to the other, just remember you do have other, better, options.

Related Stories:

No Windows 8 DVD playback will mean increased costs, and consumer confusion

Windows 8 will "disappoint": Analysts cut price targets on HP, Dell

Windows 8 Pro upgrade for new PC buyers set at $14.99

Windows 8's five biggest enemies

Five Reasons why Windows 8 will be dead on arrival

Topics: Operating Systems, Microsoft, Mobility, Software, Tablets, Windows

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259 comments
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  • Change to Linux? No, thanks

    Once I can port my full Steam account with ALL my dozens of games and you give me a FULLY compatible Office suite, I may try it.

    Until then I will stay with Windows, be it 7 or 8 (perhaps I should use that MSEd account I have to get the new one for a dirt cheap price)
    luis3007
    • Very selective, what about the other choices for a family?

      Does a family NEED fully compatible office? And haven't Microsoft got to open the office standards anyway, the ISO think so, well, that was part of the bargain.

      Does a family NEED all the stupid features of Word? Excel? Seriously?

      You can get Steam on the MAC. So why not buy one of those? You get a good resale price, which will be handy for the hard pressed family when it comes to upgrading.

      Or why not just get a tablet, that satisfies the majority, if not all, of a domestic households requirements.

      You only selected Linux as the only option presented in the article. Did you simply forget to answer the alternatives, or did they pose to much of a problem to argue against?

      The writing is on the wall. You don't have to buy a windows machine any more. Especially, a Windows 8 machine. There are plenty of other alternatives, you know, the ones you conveniently forgot to mention.

      As for "No thanks to Linux". Well, plenty of people have made the switch. The iPad is selling in droves. And let's not get started on smartphones.

      Yup, Linux is dead, and no-one is going to switch.

      *rolleyes*
      Bozzer
      • While your sarcasm is noted...

        My 60 year old parents moan when they don't have a fully compatible Office (I've tried the alternatives on them, and the partial compatibility doesn't fly). Are you stating that you are the defining authority on what the typical home user needs?

        Are you going to state we only feed people what they *need*? People don't *need* computers, cell phones, digital devices, fast food, restaurants, grocery stores, remotes.... need I go on?

        Also, Steam on Mac is 1/100th the selection as Steam on PC.

        Linux may not be dead, but your argument is.

        *roll eyes*
        thoiness2
      • Each household is different.

        For example, my wife teaches at a local college. So, she needs a home PC that can:
        -- access the email system the college uses;
        -- access My Math Lab and Blackboard, along with any other programs used by the college
        -- use Microsoft 2003 or 2007 (college was using 2003, then upgraded to 2007 on their PCs) for full compatibility
        -- has a keyboard (virtual or real) that will allow her to type for [b]hours[/b] at a time in relative comfort
        -- and [b]doesn't[/b] use an operaitng system that will require her to spend days, if not weeks, learning how to use it, because her personality is such that "it has to just work, and it can't be different than the way I've always used it".

        Which is why, even when we replaced our PC last year, options 3 through 5 were completely off the table, and would still be off the table if we needed to replace the desktop next year. For the cost of a tablet [b]without a docking station[/b], I could build a desktop PC that will do everything the tablet can, only better -- including an ergonomic keyboard. Cloud-based OSs are out, because she needs a PC that can work even if the Internet is down. And Linux/OS X are nowhere near "close enough" in their operation to Windows 7, let alone XP, for her to be comfortable just sitting down & using them -- and not only is she way too busy to take the time to learn either one, I'm too busy to take the time to become an expert in either one so that a) I can teach it to her and b) be tech support for when it doesn't work "the way the old system worked".

        Besides, there's option 6: build your own PC. Then you can use the old OS, buy your own OS disk, or whatever you want to do. And because you're picking the hardware based on the performance you need, you can usually get a better "per horsepower" deal than by buying a complete unit from a retail store & modifying it afterwards.
        spdragoo@...
      • "Does a family NEED all the stupid features of Word? Excel? Seriously?"

        Seriously yes. Both my kids schools have office, guess what...they need it. So much for your silliness.
        TheBottomLineIsAllThatMatters
      • To answer your question about NEED. Seriously...

        Yes our family needs the features of MS Office. The fact that LibreOffice or OpenOffice don't have a true integrated outline feature (Navigator doesn't cut it) is a deal breaker. Not to mention the schools that we go to require it, and neither of these are 100% compatible.

        The Open Office variants are pretty good but they do miss real features that families use. And they've been missing the outliner since 2006. And if you watch the forums it is probably the single biggest reason that O-O hasn't been more of a success especially in the enterprise.
        DevGuy_z
      • It's all about the games

        Makes Windows sound like a toy OS :)

        iPad is in the cockpit and the hospitals and the military, while Windows tablets will let us play Half Life 5.5?

        No contest - Windows wins!
        harvey_rabbit
      • your dilisonal

        I sheep try iris for android it blows siri away an is active voice control is in military equipment you should like iris women designed her and by a woman ran company.. mac hardware is just behind macbook pros using 4year old chips haha and boot camp man your a sheep for the trendy look not the function do some research
        DoDbAnZ
      • Problematic.

        "You can get Steam on the MAC. So why not buy one of those? You get a good resale price"

        Because while a Mac will command a better price on resale, the loss in actual dollars on resale is still worse then the loss in actual dollars on the resale of a god Windows machine thats in good working order.
        Cayble
      • @Cayble LOL

        A PC/Mac/w-e... Now there's a good "investment."
        thoiness2
      • I HATE LINUX! But..

        Just some facts for linux haters

        1. It's functionality has greatly improved over the years.

        2. OPEN OFFICE IS THE SAME AS MICROSOFT OFFICE

        3. *rolls eyes*

        But really, nothing will compare to windows in terms of applications. And as for mac, the writer put it best...
        "Well, easy to use so long as you do exactly what Apple thinks you should be doing anyway."

        Also, copy and pasting text is a great reminder of how touch screen isnt always the best. Actually, technicaly, controlling an os with a keyboard is a TON faster in most cases. It's fun to kill the mouse habit and it's surprisingly easy. If you already know the keys somewhat it'll take less than 30 minutes of use for it to pay off.
        TheMotely Bloak
    • I only need

      MS Office for work...and as many things move away from it (evernote, live Wiki's etc) the less I need it.

      Games....I moved to a console a few years ago and never looked back. Sometimes I see the same game on a PC (Skyrim) and it does look a tad better...but the next round of gaming consoles will fix that itch I get.
      JeveSobs
      • There's a difference between

        The pricing model of PC Games and Console as well. A Steam sale will sell titles at a fraction (and that's not an exaggeration) of the cost of a console equivalent. I have all 3 consoles, and my PC. I love them all, but the REAL sales happen on the PC (I own 145+ Steam titles).
        thoiness2
  • SJV

    What did Microsoft ever do to you Stevie. Did Bill Gates beat you up in the playground at kindergarten? Another day and yet another anti-Microsoft rant. Some of us live in the real world where we have to use grown up software not the kiddy kind.
    Steve you should take up yoga or meditation to get rid of all that tension...
    Blogsworth
    • Tooo late for him .

      SJV has one foot in the grave . He is 70 years old m0r000n .
      vivianvein
      • Bad ambassador

        I like linux. I like windows 8.

        I don't like SVJN being the ambassador for Linux. He is single handedly undermining the cause. He has no credibility or integrity.

        ZDnet, please replace him with a credible representative!
        gomigomijunk
      • @gomigomijunk - AMEN

        If I read him to get a laugh of the day at the chilish hate he has for MS and Windows. He's a hoot to read (and I use Linux as well along with the other two), but man does he give Linux a BAD name, but the good thing is you can't take him seriously, with that warped mind so bent out of reality, it's just not real.
        TheBottomLineIsAllThatMatters
    • He just couldn't do it

      He tried.

      There were at least 2 articles on Linux that didn't mention MS/Windows at all and it looks like he's back to his usual mischief and FUD.

      Stick to the 1990s SJVN, things were simpler and more primitive then and it's where your favourite OS belongs.

      For all the Xbox owners - Win 8 is the same UI - the same one on my phone and it will be the same on all the other platforms. As for business, SJVN may not have noticed but a lot of time has been spent on creating dashboards already - now no need at all. Great that Mary found one developer who doesn't like Metro - well this developer does, as do lots of others. As to avoiding Win 8 - quick! there's a hole in the ground over there - stick your head into it

      One UI to rule them all, SJVN.
      tonymcs@...
      • Well in SJVN's defense, he is not as one-sided as Paul Murphy

        At least he actually uses Windows. PM if he used Windows didn't know it very well.
        If SVJN were a programmer and could try both eco systems, I am confident that he would prefer developing for Windows. I like windows because I believe it is the hands down best eco-system for developers.
        DevGuy_z
      • Let me get this straight.

        We're supposed to be happy because using a Windows 8 PC will be like *using a video game console*?

        The Xbox is for family fun in the living room. Not sure if that's the same UI we want for "real work." I'm sure it's possible to do so, just not sure Metro is the solution.
        harvey_rabbit