If you still haven’t made the leap to Windows 10, chances are you’re probably not a big fan of Windows 8.1, either. Many people find that the radical change in look for the start menu and user interface in general is so off-putting, they can’t justify the upgrade. If you’re at a loss for what OS to pick, there might be a course of action you’ve overlooked: purchase Windows 7. Going for an older version of Windows may sound counter-intuitive, but there’s an abundance of reasons one might choose not to venture further down the Microsoft trail.
If It Ain’t Broke…
Windows 8.1 and 10 definitely came with improvements, but many of them aren’t so life-altering as to render Windows 7 completely obsolete. For gamers, performance is about equal between 7 and 8.1. Users may notice snappier boot times on 8.1, but the difference isn’t huge, and is completely negated if you tend to leave your computer in sleep or hibernate mode rather than opt for a complete shutdown. Aero Snap is vastly superior to the 8.1 Snap feature for anyone who enjoys multi-tasking, as Snap doesn’t give you 50/50 screen splitting. The search function isn’t limited to just apps like in 8.1, which requires a second step of clicking on what you want to search for specifically if it’s files or settings. Basically, Windows 8.1 took an abundance of features that many people thought worked just fine and “fixed” them, leading to what some would consider a failure of design.
Bye-Bye, Windows, I Knew Ye Well
Windows operating systems have looked much the same since their launch, and while it may not be the most modern, drastic change doesn’t generally create a lot of appeal. If you like your start menu— that simple, easy to navigate creation that you shake your fist at every time you accidentally press the Windows key— booting up Windows 8.1 can feel like being teleported to an alien universe. The start menu in 8.1 completely pulls you away from what you’re doing, as it’s now full-screen and radically different. Tiles that might feel great to navigate with on a phone or a tablet don’t translate well to a desktop, and the taking over of your screen just to run a new program is intrusive and distracting. The learning curve to adjust is pretty high; almost nothing is in the same place, and it doesn’t feel good to Google “how to find x in Windows 8” every ten minutes. The Metro design creeps into a number of different areas for a look that is sort of cohesive, but absurdly confusing for any seasoned Windows user.
Though Windows 8.1 comes with some security updates, quality of life upgrades, and is overall more powerful and less resource-intensive, weighing these benefits against how utterly foreign it is would be worthwhile for anyone who’s enjoyed Windows over the years. Windows 7 follows the tried-and-true formula we’ve come to know and love and thanks to its age, users can feel much more secure in the knowledge they’re getting a well-tested product. If the new design isn’t your cup of tea, don’t rule out opting to purchase Windows 7 instead.