Windows 7 PCs are a dead end
My opponent wants this debate to be a referendum on Windows 8. But the question is whether Windows 7 PCs are a dead end. And the answer to that question is indisputably yes.
Ignore the hate for Metro and you can plainly see that Windows 8 is a superset of Windows 7. Everything that is in Windows 7 is also in Windows 8, but the reverse is decidedly not true.
In particular, when you buy a PC designed for Windows 8, you get two huge security benefits: Secure Boot with UEFI and pervasive encryption on all devices that meet the InstantGo standard, even if they’re running a consumer version of the OS.
Windows 7 is a perfectly good enterprise OS for the present. But when buying new PCs, you need to plan for the future. That’s why Windows 8 PCs, with downgrade rights to Windows 7, are the perfect compromise.
My opponent says “wait for Windows 9.” I say, “Prepare for Windows 9 by making the right hardware choices today.”
Windows 7 is the only safe choice for now
I hadn't necessarily argued the point about buying future-proof hardware -- i.e. that could be used to run Windows 8 and its successors. This strikes me as a rather moot point. OEMs are always targeting the future and whatever you buy will almost certainly be a “Windows 8” PC regardless of what gets installed on it. It's hard to buy new hardware without UEFI secure boot. Touch is a different question. It's valuable on laptops, pointless (no pun) on desktops.
For me, the bigger problem is that there is too much flux around the reimagining of Windows. What will Windows 9 look like now that there is a new CEO? The bold new vision expressed in Windows 8 has landed on enterprises like a dead cat dropped from 10,000 feet. Squelchy, noisy, and ultimately something that has to be cleaned up before proper work can proceed.
There's too much uncertainty around the future execution of Windows for it to be a safe bet for enterprises today. That's not to say Windows doesn't have a future in the enterprise -- it's future is assured. But Windows 7 is the only safe choice for now.