Product Reviews
Take Action

Fight for Fair Finance

Tell the administration and Congress to stand up for the consumer watchdog that protects you from financial fraud and abuse.
Take Action
Why Do We Have Campaigns?
We're fighting to ensure you and your family can get a fair deal in the marketplace, especially on the choices that matter most: health care, privacy, automobiles, food, finances and more. Join our campaigns and together, we'll hold corporations and lawmakers accountable.

Should you stick with Windows 7, at least for now?

Consumer Reports News: December 18, 2012 08:08 AM

Find Ratings

A quick look at our newest computer Ratings tells an interesting story: Despite the release of the new Windows 8 OS, many Windows 7 computers are still available from a variety of retailers, and several top our Ratings. If you're shopping for a new computer right now, there are some good reasons to opt for Windows 7.

Here's a look at the pros and cons of the new operating system, and some reasons why you might want to go old school.

If it ain't broke. Windows 7 generally received favorable reviews when it was released. A few years after its 2009 launch, there still haven't been a lot of complaints. If you've been happy with Windows 7 and even Windows XP up until now, there's no compelling reason to switch to Windows 8.

You're not buying a touch screen. Windows 8 is all about touch. When you launch it, the opening screen is a touch interface. Yes, you can use it with a mouse or touchpad, but it's designed to make you instinctively want to tap on the computer screen, and even swipe it. Without a touchscreen, reasons for upgrading an old system or buying a computer with Windows 8 become less compelling.

You don't like change. Windows 8 doesn't have the familiar Start button for launching programs and shutting the system down. Of course, it's not difficult to launch your applications from the Start screen with the Windows 8 tile interface. But then again, it's also not the same as clicking your Start button and seeing a list of programs. So if you prefer the old way, go with Windows 7.


Vizio CT15-A4 (Windows 8)

Drivers still need updating. Some Windows 8 models still are not performing as well as expected, and Windows 7 computers topped many of the new ones. The need for vendors to update their Windows 8 drivers could explain the less-than-optimal performance (the Vizio CT15-A4 pictured above was an exception, with excellent performance).

You're on the fence. You might be better off getting a Windows 7 computer for now, waiting for the dust to settle, and upgrading to Windows 8 later. Although we haven't yet noticed prices dropping on older Windows 7 models yet, there are still some Best Buys in our Ratings (including the Acer Aspire TimelineU M5-481TG-6814, shown at the top of this post). If you decide to upgrade over the next couple of months, it will cost you just $15 to do so, provided you buy your new computer by the end of January and register to upgrade at by February 28, 2013.

Then again . . . There are reasons to buy Windows 8 computers, but they're probably a matter of personal preference. If you are getting a touch screen and like the idea of using your computer in some ways that are similar to a tablet, Windows 8 could be for you. If you like the notion of "live" tiles that change as new e-mails or social-network updates come in, you'll appreciate the tile interface on Windows 8. We've got you covered, with more than a dozen recommended Windows 8 laptops and four desktops.

Check out all our computer Ratings, for both Windows 7 and Windows 8 machines.

Want a Windows 7 computer? Now's the time for a deal

Donna L. Tapellini

Find Ratings

Computers Ratings

View and compare all Computers ratings.

E-mail Newsletters

FREE e-mail Newsletters! Choose from cars, safety, health, and more!
Already signed-up?
Manage your newsletters here too.

Electronics News


Cars Build & Buy Car Buying Service
Save thousands off MSRP with upfront dealer pricing information and a transparent car buying experience.

See your savings


Mobile Get Ratings on the go and compare
while you shop

Learn more