Make your Windows XP-using friends/family members read this important PSA
Microsoft has officially pulled the plug on support for Windows XP. That’s it. Finite. Done. No more. Don’t expect to see any future patches, services packs, fixes, hotfixes, critical updates, anything — if you’re one of the one-fourth of desktop users or so who are still running the antiquated operating system (yes, there’s that many of you), you’re about to enter the Wild Wild West of computing.
You are your own worst enemy, indeed. In this month’s matchup, we pit Windows 8.1 against its predecessor, Windows 8, in not so much an outright battle, but a comparison of some of the more notable tweaks that Microsoft has slapped into its first refresh of the controversial operating system. Just make sure you tell your system to stop hitting itself, OK?
Note: This article originally appeared in the Holiday 2013 issue of the magazine.
Windows 8.1: Another year in the oven makes for a tasty piece of meat
Reviewing an update to an operating system feels a little odd, doesn’t it? After all, if you already use Windows 8, it’s not like you’re not going to install Windows 8.1. Sure, there’s always the threat of compatibility issues, but Microsoft seems to have this one covered pretty well with the website (and scanning tool) that it’s dedicated to the Windows 8.1 update.
A visual walkthrough of 20 new Windows 8.1 features and changes
Microsoft has recieved a lot of negative flack for the radical changes it’s made in Windows 8 with the complete disconnect from traditional UI elements like the Start button. With the release of the Windows 8.1 preview, which you can try out now if you are willing to use beta software, Microsoft is making strides to appease the user base it left out in the cold.
With the introductory Windows 8 upgrade discount offer set to expire today, now is a good time to snag a $40 Windows 8 Pro upgrade license for those who have a favorable opinion of the operating system and are considering an upgrade. Because once normal Windows 8 update pricing takes effect tomorrow, you will have to shell out as much as $199 for an upgrade to Windows 8 Pro or $119 if you opt for the Windows 8 upgrade edition. But U.S. students and faculty members interested in Windows 8 don’t need to worry all that much about the pricing reset, as Microsoftj has announced a special discount offer exclusively for them.
Windows 8 previews to expire in about three weeks’ time
The world may not have ended last week, as many doomsayers had feared (or hoped), but the continuing existence of our planet means that the various preview builds of Windows 8 will all expire next month.
Noted Windows blogger Paul Thurrott recently claimed that initial Windows 8 sales were well below Microsoft’s internal projections, prompting many to write obituaries for the operating system. Despite there being every chance of the report being accurate, there is nothing to suggest that Microsoft won’t be able to sell hundreds of millions of Windows 8 copies, like it has done on so many occasions in the past with previous iterations of the OS. So in that spirit, let’s forget the poor critical response or the tepid popular reaction to Windows 8 for a moment and focus on the numbers.
In a bid to lure existing Windows users to Windows 8, Microsoft has announced a special introductory upgrade offer for those who choose to upgrade from Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7 between October 26, 2012 and January 31, 2013. As part of this offer, they will have to pay just $39.99 for a downloadable version of Windows 8 Pro and $69.99 for its boxed counterpart. But Microsoft has reserved the best deal for those who purchase a Windows 7 PC between July 2, 2012 and January 31, 2013 by making them eligible for a $14.99 Windows 8 Pro upgrade. Such deals are all fine and dandy, but surely not everyone is going to upgrade in the first three months. So what about those who choose to upgrade after the promo period? And, more importantly, what about full (non-upgrade) pricing?
The PC upgrade is, sadly, a lost art form today. Fifteen years ago, the vast majority of PC buyers bought machines with long-term plans to upgrade them as newer, more capable parts became available. Today, most people would rather just chuck an aged PC into an e-waste bin and buy a completely new computer. We say boo to that. A well-thought-out upgrade can be the most economical option, extending the life of your PC’s still-useful parts—not to mention giving you a tremendous sense of satisfaction at your resourcefulness.
On the following pages we detail three distinct PC builds desperately in need of performance boosts. We walk you through our thought process in determining realistic upgrade goals for each PC and how and why we choose the parts to get there. Before and after benchmarks reveal the fruits of our labor.