I don't want to alarm you, but the clock is ticking.
The Windows clock, I mean. Microsoft's new operating system debuts October 26. This means that very soon thereafter, any new Windows laptop or desktop you want to buy will come with Windows 8.
Let me be blunt: As a desktop operating system, Windows 8 blows. It's completely unintuitive. It forces you to relearn the simplest tasks, like how to shut down your PC. (No, seriously; there's no more Start menu, so to shut down, you have to venture into the Settings menu. Seriously.) And from what I've seen so far, it offers no clear-cut advantages over Windows 7. Quite the opposite: I think it'll put most PC users at a disadvantage.
Consequently, I think if you're in the market for a new computer, the time to buy is now. Get a Windows 7 system while you can. This doesn't mean missing the Windows 8 boat entirely: thanks to Microsoft's Windows 8 upgrade offer, you can get the new OS for just $14.99 when you buy a new PC. That puts you in the driver's seat. You can run Windows 7 as long as you want, but keep the upgrade on hand in case the day comes when you're ready for it.
(You might even be able to set up a dual-boot option, running both Windows 7 and Windows 8 on separate partitions. You can do that now with the Release Preview, but I'm not sure if that'll work with the upgrade license.)
From a hardware standpoint, the desktop or laptop you buy today will barely differ from the one you'd buy after October 26. It's not like Windows 8 is ushering in any new hardware standards (well, other than for tablets, but that's a different discussion entirely). The one exception might be a touch-screen LCD, but I'm not convinced I'd want one on a laptop -- certainly not on a desktop.
Nah, if you're going to get Windows 8, get it on a Surface tablet, where it looks pretty sweet. If you're going to get a desktop or laptop, buy the most powerful system you can afford, and buy it now, while you can still get Windows 7 preinstalled.
It's worth noting that you'll still be able to buy refurbished and clearance Windows 7 system for months to come. But if you want a custom configuration or state-of-the-art hardware, Windows 7 will stop being an option in just over a week.
What are your thoughts on this? Think I'm being too hard on the new OS? Or do you agree that Windows 7 is the best desktop OS Microsoft has ever made, and therefore the one to covet when it's time to buy a PC? I eagerly await your feedback.
In the meantime, check out CNET editor Donald Bell's spot-on video, "Top 5 reasons not to upgrade to Windows 8."