Dear Lifehacker, I have just completed my own (and first) ever PC build and I am still contemplating what OS to choose. Should I fork out and get Windows 7 now or just wait seeing as Windows 8 is just around the corner? Also what version (32-bit or 64-bit) should I be looking at and what are the main differences between the two? Thanks, NewPCDude
Conversely, if you acquire Windows 7, you'll be able to upgrade to Windows 8 on that date for just $39.99. Unfortunately, Microsoft hasn't released the general pricing for standalone copies of Windows 8, which makes a full comparison difficult.
In your position, I think I'd be waiting — at least until you know how much a new copy of Windows 8 will cost. While upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 8 should be straightforward, I'd still prefer to start with a completely fresh install. If you're keen to use your hardware in the meantime, install a version of Linux, which will be an interesting education if nothing else. Even if you do go with Windows 7, you might want a dual-booting machine for versatility; check out our guide for how to install them side-by-side.
As for the 64-bit question: assuming you've purchased relatively new components for your PC, 64-bit is the way to go, since it will utilise your memory and on-board processor more effectively. It's relatively rare to encounter software that doesn't run on 64-bit Windows these days, so I'd definitely be going that route. Check out our detailed guide to choosing between 32-bit and 64-bit if you want more background on how they differ, but 64-bit is definitely the main game now. (The one exception might be if you've scrabbled together a machine from older components.)
As usual, that's just one opinion. PC-building readers are welcome to offer their own perspective in the comments.
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