Does Windows 8 belong on older PCs?

Moderated by Jason Hiner | August 27, 2012 -- 07:00 GMT (00:00 PDT)

Summary: Jason Perlow says Microsoft's latest OS will turn your old PC into Greased Lightning. Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols thinks old PCs need Windows 8 like a hole in the head.

Jason Perlow

Jason Perlow




Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

Best Argument: No


Audience Favored: Yes (74%)

Closing Statements

It's simply worth the change

Jason Perlow

Darth Perlow: I've been waiting for you, Obi-Vaughan. We meet again, at last. The circle is now complete. When I left you, I was but the learner; now *I* am the master.

My opponent is unable to make a convincing argument from a purely technical perspective that installing Windows 8 on older PCs which can already accommodate Windows 7 is a net negative. And at the end of the day, that is the crux of what we are debating here.

His powers are weak.

Obi-Wan Vaughn-Nichols was once my teacher, but now I am the master. Indeed, by using the Source, Linux can bring life back to even the oldest systems, even ones which cannot run Windows 8, Windows 7 or even that pile of Bantha droppings, Windows Vista.

But Linux will not run your legacy software, and it requires a transition to a completely new environment with all new Open Source apps. Only a Gungan fool like Jar-Jar would move to Linux thinking their critical application software would still work. A FOOL!

Indeed, the new Metro UI and Star Menu in Windows 8 is also different, and will require adaptation as well as developers to create new WinRT-based programs to take advantage of it.

But it is worth adapting to the change because Windows 8 will improve the performance of your old PC, it will still run your existing applications, and also provides you with many new features that will invigorate your system with the power of The Dark Side.

Darth Perlow: Your Linux powers are weak, old man.

No real reason to bother

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

Obi-Vaughan: Only a master of Windows, Perlow!

[lightsabers clash]

Seriously, I can't see any but the most hard-core and techie Windows fans moving their current PCs to Windows 8. There's just no real reason to bother.

Don't believe me? Since I started this debate, I've seen another program, Classic Shell that lets you restore real Windows functionality to Windows 8, and, far more telling, Samsung is bring the Start button back to Windows 8. Come on, Windows 8 isn't even shipping yet and already people are ignoring what Microsoft wants you to do with it in favor of making it more like Windows 7?

I said it before, I'll say it again. Metro should have gone to phones and tablets, and all the real improvements in Windows 8 should have gone into Windows 7 SP2.

Obi-Vaughan: You can't win, Darth. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.

[Cue theme, start closing roll, Coming Next Summer: The Mac Strikes Back!]

It's tough to recommend upgrading

Jason Hiner

This was a fun debate. In fact, these guys almost had a little too much fun with the whole Star Wars theme. But you've got to love their enthusiasm. In terms of who won the debate, that's tough because both of them brought up some important stuff but neither of them totally convinced me that they have the right perspective on all of this. As Perlow pointed out, Windows 8 has some key underlying improvements in security and performance that will make it a safer and more efficient experience. But, Steven is right that the new interface is going to confuse a lot more people than it is going to help.

If this were just about Window 8 then I would say it's going to do well out of the gate based on all of the interest it has already generated and the fact that it is so new and different that it will convince a lot of people to give it a try. However, this debate is specifically about whether users should upgrade their old PCs to Windows 8. Because Windows does not have a very good track record on operating system upgrades when it comes to stability and performance and the fact that Windows 8 is adding such a radical new user interface to the desktop, it's difficult to recommend that any but the most curious technophiles should upgrade their old machines to Windows 8. Instead, try it out on your next laptop, especially if it's a touch-screen hybrid. So, Steven gets the win.


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  • Limited resources?

    Each iteration of Windows seems to engulf more RAM, disk space, and CPU and GPU cycles than the last. This generates a 'need' for new computers, similar to the 'need' for new graphics cards to run the latest games.

    At the risk of waking a gaggle of trolls, software demanding new hardware demanding new software is a death spiral, not progress. The Linux family is demanding new hardware to drive Emerald or Beryl or Compiz so the user can have lots of GUI gee-whiz stuff. So does Windows. So, I imagine, does the MacAppleIOS world.

    We had manual typewriters, in desktop and portable. Electric drive was added. Film ribbons and replaceable font balls were added. Industry churns the product to generate sales. Hammers get fibreglass handles; so do shovels. Telephones move from wired, finger-powered dials to unwired pushbuttons. This is the way of commerce; it's technological and economic evolution.

    Wait, that's wrong. Evolution is change for a reason. Churning is change to generate money. Windows 8 is churning. Windows 7 was evolution. Linux, because most distributions will work in "old" computers is more like evolution (probably also because it's free). If Windows 8 will run in a $200 laptop with a 2005 design, it's evolution and a good thing. Otherwise, it's churning.
    Reply 18 Votes I'm for No
    • Windows 8 uses the same system requirements as Windows 7

      Whether you have a logo PC or you’ve built your own PC, the recommendations for Windows 8 include:

      1 GHz or faster processor
      1 GB RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
      16 GB available hard disk space (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
      DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver

      One new element to Windows 8 is the requirement that Metro style applications have a minimum of 1024x768 screen resolution, and 1366x768 for the snap feature. If you attempt to launch a Metro style app with less than this resolution (e.g. 800x600, 1024x600) you will receive an error message.

      Windows 8 even uses less resources too. For instance, the Windwos 8 UI (Start Screen) apps are never running in the background when you are working in the Windows Desktop App. A lot of the underhood performance improvements that were introduced with Windows 7 also remain such as trigger starting of services on demand, parallel starting of services on startup, adjusting display picture depending on lighting of the environment or a room, ability to customize and turn off features you are not using. Windows 8 takes it further, faux pas Aero Glass is no longer there. So there is a lot of improvements for older PC's and with new SoC chips, features like connected standby will allow your computer to run for weeks.

      Windows has the edge here.

      Another point I would like make, my Dell Dimension running the Windows 8 Consumer Preview died a few weeks ago, the hard disk was still working. So I installed it in an old custom build Sempron tower I had dormant (circa 2006). I used one of the 256 MB dimms (didn't even realize) from the Dell in the old desktop, install the hard disk, booted the thing and Windows 8 automatically configured itself. When I checked the system properties, I was surprised to see the 256 MBs of RAM and it was actually quite usable.
      Reply 18 Votes I'm Undecided
    • Thoughts

      "Each iteration of Windows seems to engulf more RAM, disk space, and CPU and GPU cycles than the last."

      Except Windows 7 and the upcoming Windows 8, both of which reversed the trend.

      It does seem like Microsoft is paying more attention to performance in the latest releases.

      "At the risk of waking a gaggle of trolls"

      Including yourself, as you seem to be trolling a bit here.

      "Evolution is change for a reason."

      No, "evolution" is a series of random mutations hopefully leading to something better (but usually not). It's actually a very much misused term in tech circles. There's actually no evolution at all in computing, as all computers are designed.

      But the issue is whether or not there is a reason - and just because YOU say there's no reason doesn't mean there's no reason.

      In the case of Windows 8, the reason is to push us to the new Metro paradigm. So it's very much being done for a reason.

      You may HATE the reason, but it's still a reason nonetheless. It doesn't suddenly stop being a reason just because you hate it. Logic does not work that way.

      "If Windows 8 will run in a $200 laptop with a 2005 design"

      And it will. I have a Core 2 machine (about 2006 tech), and I have no performance problems with Windows 8 in a virtual machine. There shouldn't be any major issues with 2005 machines.
      Reply 18 Votes I'm Undecided
      • It is not really a "reversed" trend

        Every new kernel is a little bit less efficient than its predecessor because stability is the over-riding design parameter. Each iteration of that particular kernel is more efficient than its predecessor .Windows 8 is more efficient than Windows 7 which was more efficient than Windows Vista (all based upon the NT 6.x kernel).

        This was true for Windows 2000 before it (NT 5.x) - and it will be true of the next NT kernel re-write.
        M Wagner
        Reply 6 Votes I'm Undecided
      • Pedantic much

        Evolution from

        "any process of formation or growth; development: the evolution of a language; the evolution of the airplane."

        So, it fits perfectly in the evolution of computers and the evolution of OSes.

        Windows 7 is the latest evolution of the Windows Operating System.

        Windows 8 might now be an evolution, since it is a radical change, at least in the UI.

        This argument really comes down to:

        Do you like the UI formerly known as Metro?

        If you answer yes, then you should side with Jason for all the reasons he listed in his original article.

        If you answer no, then the difficulties of the UI change will out weigh any of the advantages Jason pointed out, and you side with Steven.

        Is Windows 8 better than Windows 7? Beneath the UI, I think the answer is an unqualified and empathic yes. Is the UI a big problem? For many people yes, it is and will continue to be.

        Should you upgrade? Well, that depends on if you are flexible enough to learn a new UI, and yes, I am suggesting that anyone who cannot adapt to the UI is nearly as bad as a Luddite using an abacus. Windows 8 works great, and if you don't think so, then you did not give it a real chance. If you say you gave it a real chance, and you still hate it, then you are a liar, you didn't give it a real chance, because if you did, you would get used to it.

        Those who complain about the Windows 8 UI remind me of the people who complained about Windows, because DOS was so much easier to use. Well, it wasn't, and if you would open your eyes (that is a generalized "you", not aimed at CobraA1) you would see that the touch interface is the future of the PC and that within 5 years every PC will have one and be using a touch interface OS. Even MacOS is going that way, as they draw it closer to iOS. Android has been projected to go onto PCs.

        The future is touch, get over it.
        Reply 3 Votes I'm Undecided
        • thoughts

          "and if you would open your eyes (that is a generalized "you", not aimed at CobraA1) you would see that the touch interface is the future of the PC and that within 5 years every PC will have one and be using a touch interface OS."

          Yes and no. The touch screen will be important, yes, but I see touch as useful for devices I hold in my hand, not as useful for devices that sit on a desk or table.

          This idea that ONLY one way of interacting with computing devices is somehow the future is IMO bogus. We'll have many ways of interacting, and we'll use the method that makes the most sense. Touch makes sense in many places, but not all of them.
          Reply 5 Votes I'm Undecided
          • Absolutely....

            this is the nail that you just whacked on the head ------> o------
            Reply 1 Vote I'm Undecided
      • evolution

        Wrong again. Evolution is the sum of only the successful outcomes of random mutations and adaptations. It does not encompass the failed mutations/adaptations. Those I would losely term "extinctions".
        Reply Vote I'm Undecided
      • "Evolution"

        Believe it or not, CobraA1, the word evolution existed before Darwin's Theory of Natural Selection, and continues to have an independent existence.
        Reply Vote I'm Undecided
    • Perhaps surprisingly, its evolution


      By your criteria, Windows 8 is evolution. It's faster, its lighter and the only people who'll be truly disappointed will be the kids who liked the bling.

      It's look is actually more like some of the cleaner Linux distros. Seeing you mentioned Linux, it's worth making a comparison. Early 2012 I tried to shift from XP to Linux looking at 6 different distributions - I was looking for a good replacement seeing I'd moved from Office to OpenOffice and am using open sourced product when possible. I thought I could finally dump Microsoft.

      Damned but I couldn't. For three important apps I couldn't match efficiency or speed with Windows XP. And a couple like Autohotkey didn't even have a good match. So, I tried Windows 7 x64, and not only could I run all the software but it ran faster than on XP. Now Windows 8 is faster and leaner than 7 - I'll be able to let my 3.2G Core 2 die of old age.

      So I guess that there are areas where Linux is better than Windows but given that 7 was quicker than XP and 8 is faster than 7 (and leaner as well) I can't see my desktop OS's moving away from Microsoft.
      Reply 7 Votes I'm Undecided