Ask LH: Should I Buy Windows 8 For My New PC Build?

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

Dear NPCD,

Windows 8 is due for general release on October 26, so it's really not that long to wait. You can download a trial version right now, but that can't be so easily upgraded once the trial ends.

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.

Cheers Lifehacker

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    Totally agree with, lifehacker, wait until windows 8 releases.

      isn't it only $15 to upgrade to win8 if you have recently purchased win7?
      For $15 i'd be tempted to buy and install win7, otherwise you're not going to really be using your computer. However, if you have the time and the interest linux could be worthwhile in the meantime, but it may just be easier to pay the $15 extra and be able to use a familiar system for 2 months.

      Note that this assumes that win7 and win8 will be identically priced for the full versions, which we don't know.

        I think that's only if you buy a pre-built PC with Windows 7.
        I support the Linux suggestion.
        Install Linux and perhaps the Windows 8 trial.
        Use Linux as the default and boot to Windows 8 if you HAVE to.
        If you find Linux does everything you need, go and spend that $40 that would have gone towards Windows 8 on your favourite beverage!

          Arstechnica has an interesting and relevant article on Windows 8 licences...

          Sounds like you may be able to buy a system builder licence for cheaper than $40! (in the US anyways)

    New question, with all the websites and stores offering components for system builders would it be worth starting a new business that offers the same service and also offers to build it onsite at no extra cost to the consumer? Thoughts?

      I'm sure you'd have takers if you could get the word out.
      I doubt you could live off it, but probably a viable option if you want some extra income.

    Could have sworn recent articles noted $15.00 to update copies of 7 bought between now and when 8 was released. And $40.00 to upgrade already owned copies of 7...?!! Is that the case or not??

      No, that's if you buy a new PC with Windows 7 pre-installed then you can upgrade it to Windows 8 for $15, as long as it was purchased on or after the 2nd of June.
      If you bought one before that date, or have a valid XP, Vista or 7 license, you get the $40 upgrade (correct me if I'm wrong anyone, I'm sure that's what it was).

        Yeah, pretty sure that's what I said dude, thanks anyway.

    Personally I didn't really like Windows 8 that much from my experience using the free beta of it, I don't like the new tablet interface that it forces you to use when you boot up the system (that's just my opionion anyway). What you probably should do is just try out the beta first and it will give you an idea if you're going to like it or not. If you don't like it just get Windows 7 instead, simple is that.

    Buy? Windows?

    Remind me again why I should upgrade to Windows 8?

    Last I checked, all i'm getting with it is a new shitty UI that further complicates the navigation?

    And now Microsoft is trying to get other companies to released tourchscreen laptops for Windows 8 which will drive the overall price range for laptops. This is a problem because analysts say ultrabooks need stay below the $700-$800 price range.

    Microsoft has created another Vista but worse and it hasn't even launched yet. Many companies are already disappointed and are considering Linux to be the new frontier of operating systems.

      Sorry but you are mistaken. You've clearly not actually installed Win8 and used it regularly for any length of time.

      It's true that 95% of the time it's just like using Win7 - desktop mode with Aero snap and resizeable windows just how you like it. But even just with keyboard and mouse, features like side-snap, the way hot corners and Charms are used, the integration of your existing Hotmail/ account(s) and the sheer speed of the UX are noticeable and meaningful improvements.

      It hasn't even launched, but it's had the most extensive pre-launch testing I could possibly ask for. Don't knock it 'til you try it. Like the Ribbon, I'm sure you'll find it's not so bad!

      Basically, if you're going to buy a brand-new OS and the choice is between Win8 and Win7, Win8 is just better.

    Should have purchased w7 OEM when building. Either way you look at it now, you're going to spend more than you needed to on the OS.


    Don't bother. I've been testing the 90-day evaluation since it was released and Windows 7 is far, far superior to Windows 8. It's just absolutely stupid to try and sell what is essentially a touchscreen OS for PC's.

    Microsoft had just released pricing information about Windows 8 in the US. According to TheVerge, Windows 8 Pro will sell at $199. BUT it will sell at a promotional pricing of $69.99 until Jan 31, 2013. This is the full version of Windows 8 Pro, not an upgrade. They seriously want you to adopt windows 8 quickly.
    While this is American pricing, the $14.99 offer and the $39.99 offer were exactly the same in Australia. So hopefully the pricing will be the same for this.

    Whether to go with Windows 8, I say yes. I am using the release preview at the moment and I barely come out of desktop mode. I nto like I ever really hung out in the start menu in 7 either. I've made sure that most of my files use the desktop apps and not the metro/modern apps though (You really don't want Photos, Video or Music to handle those files). The start orb isnt there, but you still go to the same area of the screen to access the start screen. Apart from the UI, everything seems to run much nicer and quicker than Windows 7.

    Very well articulated opinions here. You have helped me decide to wait for 8. Thanks everyone!

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