Would I buy a new Windows PC right now?
It's a bad time to buy a Windows PC.
The utter confusion coming from the Microsoft camp as to what the final system requirements will be means that it's hard to plan a safe upgrade path. After all, you could go out today and drop almost $5,000 for a Surface Studio 2 PC -- a Microsoft Surface Studio 2 -- and find yourself unable to upgrade to Windows 11 in a few months. And while Microsoft has hinted at changes to broaden the compatibility of existing PCs, that's doing little at this stage other than creating more confusion.
I'm used to aggressive upgrade cycles and short shelf-to-scrapheap lifecycles, but this level of uncertainty from a company as big and influential as Microsoft is unnerving.
I've never been one to buy new PCs in the run-up to a new Windows release. Dynamics are such that even small changes to the system requirements will put downward pressure on prices as soon as a new release is out.
The Windows 11 release looks likely to draw a line underneath a whole raft of old processors, as well as making TPM a requirement.
The other problem is that it's hard to know what the final system requirements will end up being. Sure, Microsoft will offer the basic information, but what will translate into a workable minimum system requirement is still unclear until we have more real-world testing. I mean, a 1GHz dual-core CPU and 4GB of RAM is pretty paltry
Bottom line: It's a bad time to buy a Windows PC.
But it's a great time to buy a Mac.
Apple has pushed out the system requirements for the upcoming macOS Monterey, which means that you can buy new -- or even used -- hardware with confidence.
Also, while Apple's transition to Apple Silicon adds some uncertainties, it's clear that the Intel-powered Macs will be around for years, and that support will be around for years to come.
Apple is building certainty into the ecosystem. Sure, the Apple Tax is a price of entry, but looking at how many years of support a Mac can get -- all the way back to 2013 for Mac Pro users -- that's a small price to pay.
If you have to buy a Windows PC, then I'd pay close attention to the requirements, particularly to the need for TPM version 2.0 and a compatible CPU. Trying to outsmart this or cutting corners could end up being expensive down the line if you need to go up to Windows 11.
Also, bear in mind that what you buy now is likely to be more expensive than if you wait for Windows 11 to launch. It's going to be the end of the line for a lot of hardware.
And be very careful of buying a system (like Microsoft's own Surface Studio 2 -- that is a dead-end). Again, check the specs, and recheck.
Remember, Microsoft and the OEMs are in the business of selling you a new PC, not keeping your old one going for years. Apple, on the other hand, wants to sell you digital content and services.