How to Justify Upgrading Your Computer

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Reader Comments (56)

Hah. I hadn't been particularly against Windows 8, just hadn't seen a need to update yet. Then I read this:

Just one year after the Windows 8 launch, Microsoft issued a free update to address some of the gripes. The system now lets people run more than two apps side by side, for instance, and its Internet Explorer browser lets people open more than 10 tabs without automatically closing older ones.

Wait, what, really?

Note from Scott: No, sorry, but not really. I do understand your confusion though.

Win 8 has two interfaces. There's the part designed for use on tablets, which has tablet optimized full-screen apps and a web browser that is meant for smaller screens. That's the one they were referring to. The other interface is WINDOWS AS YOU'VE ALWAYS KNOWN IT.

On a desktop computer the tablet interface acts as an information screen/dashboard and an updated start menu. Other than that, it is pretty much Windows 7 with some updates and a different color scheme. The quote above only refers to the tablet interface, and if you have a Windows Pro tablet, it can run full Windows PC apps in addition to the full-screen tablet apps. Think about that for a moment, a $300, 8 inch tablet that runs full desktop software.

I have a history of being somewhat pro-Microsoft. I’ve never received any promotional consideration from them. (They didn’t send me Surface Pro, like they did some people.) When I was shopping for my first computer, way back in the mists of time, I was intent on getting a Mac. I got an good deal on a Windows machine and have been using Windows ever since. I don’t talk a lot about my operating system of choice, but sometimes I am weak enough to rise to the bait.

I currently have Windows 8.1 running on my production computer. I like it. That’s my opinion. Others may disagree, which is fine, as long as that opinion is based on facts. If you have a Windows 7 box that works I don’t suggest upgrading just to get Windows 8, but if you’re buying a new machine I suggest getting one with Windows 8.1 and, if it will work for your budget and lifestyle, a touchscreen (Or at least a track pad or Wacom tablet, which is what I have).

I like that they tried something new. They didn’t get it perfect the first time. Who ever does?

February 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGawain

Windows 8 - don't. Just don't. Just......don't.

February 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPhilster

Downgrading back to Windows 7 is a popular option these days. Even Microsoft has a page about it.

I try to avoid every other OS version between upgrades -- I went direct from Windows XP to Windows 7, and from OS X 10.6 to 10.8. Very glad in both cases.

February 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCJ

Scott won an argument! Sort of. Or perhaps Missy merely lost it.

Wait, has Missy approved this comic?

February 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMoog

As someone who owns two machines running Win8: as of right now, it's basically just Win7 with an app store that is mostly optional to use (except that it's how you get major Windows Updates now), which you can link/password-lock with your hotmail or other Microsoft account. For some reason places like Best Buy keep trying to up-sell the app store to people who've never owned a computer, but it's largely irrelevant if you're the least bit computer-savvy, and interacting with it is 99% avoidable, as it generally won't ambush you while you're busy (unless you're putting off upgrading to 8.1, that is). The only ones who are really likely to encounter major problems with the operating system are people who have other hardware that isn't supported on Windows 8, such as an older printer - so if that's holding you back, either wait until your old hardware stops working or until you get tired of not having Windows 8. Otherwise, the operating system is slightly better (read: more streamlined in general, and more accessible to touch) than Windows 7 is. I upgraded straight from using XP, also, and I'm 99% satisfied with the change. Sadly, however, Win8 is still not good at file sharing the way Dropbox is.

February 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTachyon

I actually like windows 8, on a laptop with touchscreen. Otherwise, not so much.

February 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMark

Oh please. Operating systems and additional applications are so 20th century.

February 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterThom

Oh please. Operating systems and additional applications are so 20th century.

February 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterThom

Debian w/xfce, customizable, but not flashy

February 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTroller

I was happy with XP. I do like the search option in the Start page on Win 7, but other than that, I'm trying to think of a thing in Win 7 that is better than XP, and I can easily think of things that are worse.

I get irritated because using a computer is not a hobby; it's part of my job. I don't like spending time to learn the new way to do something that worked fine the old way. Don't get me wrong, if I need to learn something new that gives me an advantage, I'm all for that. But why should I waste time learning something that changed for no particular reason at all?

February 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKristina L

I'm running two Win 8.1 machines, one desktop and one laptop, neither of them with touch input. I...really don't get all the fuss. Win 8 is Windows 7 with a fair number of under-the-hood improvements and a largely-seperate OS tacked on the side, for some reason. Me, I just ignore the "Modern" OS and it's fine to use. It's also much better at multi-monitor stuff than 7.

One thing I will say, though, is that going from 8 to 8.1 was a farce. Going from 7 to 8 was faster, simpler, and kept more settings than 8 to 8.1 did, which is ridiculous.

February 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGDwarf

I have no idea what any of you are talking about.

If anyone wants me, I will be in the kitchen. Chewing the handle of the bread knife. And crying.

February 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaddy

@ CJ - so what you're saying is operating systems are like Star Trek movies - every other one is naff.

February 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJeff

Penny Arcade has an appropriate comment on Win8 inteface and their "fix".

The comic was produced 2013/06/28, links to a "competitor" may not be welcome, so I'll leave it at that.

Note from Scott: I read Penny Arcade regularly (Despite the fact that they DID get a Surface Pro (cough, cough). Here's the link.

While I'm linking to good comics that I read, here are links to Savage Chickens:

And Scenes From a Multiverse:

February 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterWow

Two words for you; "Chromebook" (ok, ok. That is actually one word with two sylables) Everyone in my household fights over our Chromebook rather than get stuck using the "main" computer with Windows 8.

February 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJerryWeis

Panel 4 for the win!

February 26, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermohrorless

I don't get "doing a fresh install of Windows", but if that's a thing that you do, and if Windows 8 is just Windows 7 plus some annoying junk that slaps you in the face regularly, then, install Windows 7 again this time, and make your next "fresh install" be Windows 8.2. If you even can; you may have got discs that only update an existing system.

My approach is to back up the partition(s) containing the installed OS, if I can. Then I can restore that to get back my system plus about 1000 Windows patches. I haven't used the Win 8 tablet I bought last year yet because I haven't achieved that backup. I'm using my two previous machines instead, which suck for other reasons.

I think that Win 7's feature of opening a new session in ProgramOnTaskbar by right-clicking the one already running is neat. I think Win 8 still has that.

Watch for a future Win 8.x to disallow network access for oldie-desktop apps, for security reasons, unless Bill Gates hasn't thought of doing that yet, in which case, I didn't say it. Oh, and touch. They already killed the touch user's on-screen mouse that was in Win 7 and really useful for touch-stupid applications. Unless it's back in 8.1.

February 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Carnegie

I do hope operating systems aren't like Star Trek movies (which are also like the books of the Aeneid: the odd ones kind of suck and the even ones totally rock, through 6, after which they all suck). That would mean having to give up on upgrading, ever again.

February 26, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterkhereva

I've always seen Windows 8 as "Windows 7" with "Windows Phone DLC pack". I was one of those people that eagerly tries the cluster**** that was Vista, but Windows 8 simply puts me off

February 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRaestloz

Windows operating systems are like Star Trek movies, every other one is going to suck.

February 26, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterhwuu

Cheers, Scott. I wasn't sure that affiliation would give some aggro because of driving "clicks" to some non-affiliated work would make Amazon a bit miffed at you.

I regularly read it, but it's mostly because on a rare occasion they get the *perfect* take on something. As with Win8.1. They also have my go-to illustration for people asking "So what IS Twitter?". I can't remember the date, but search for le twittre. And they had a good illustration for both "glassholes" and "anti-glass-glassholes". Sometimes people will happily put a *malign* intention on someone's choice, as long as they don't know them.

I also use your "How to Show Good Form" and "How to Reveal a Shocking Truth" as to why silly can be so dammned funny.

February 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterWow

8.1 isn't that bad actually. I just upgraded from a modded older windows OS (Vista, but modded to the point where it could hold it's own against 7), and while the start menu took me a sec to get used to, it runs great and we get our desktop back.

February 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterK7

I will stick with my Commodore 64, thankyouverymuch.


February 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDB

This literally just happened to me. I built a new machine last week keeping only my drives and RAM. But also figured I might as well get an SSD and installed Win8.1 instead of keeping with Win7. I've always loved this comic but never has it been so personal and timely to me.

For people that hate on Win8.1, you clearly gave up quickly without much effort. It took me very little time to get used to the differences between it and Win7. They updated a lot to make it better but you haven't noticed because you're all stuck on the damn start menu. They finally updated the task manager and it has the startup list you could only find in msconfig. Also, you can get 3rd-party software that disables the Metro start menu and gives you the old Win7 start menu. Check out Start8.

February 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterThestas

I could post the full treatise as to why Windows 8 is inferior to its predecessor; but since the comic makes it clear that arguments against it are just reasons for Scott to be contrary, I'll just post one fact about it and one about its development.

1. You have to pay ACTUAL MONEY to get the included Solitaire to work.
2. Everybody hated that the start menu had been replaced by a mess of tiles, so 8.1 gave us a start button... that just leads you back to the mess of tiles.

February 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterZ2

I really don't see what all the fuss about. It's just a little different, and (mostly) in a good way. I've grown to accept the tile approach, it's neater. The OS is also a helluvalot faster - my old Latitude D630 runs on 8.1 a lot better than it ever did on 7.
People just resent change because it feels like a chore learning new systems.

February 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterChris G

Windows 8 is basically a subsidy to the publishers of apps that bring back the start menu.

February 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterResuna


I know it won't serve your needs as a comic artist, but for everything else, there's Chromebook.

February 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMatt

"I don't consider an OS mature unless at least three podcasters have called it a disaster." Nailed that one.

I've been using Mac for the last 8 years and like it, but wait, this isn't going where you think it is.

I wanted a small budget traveling laptop that was a real computer, not just a tablet, and I want to save some money for the home computer I'll need to get in the next year. So, I decided to take a chance on an Asus tablet with a docking keyboard, basically a netbook with a touch screen. Full Windows 8.1. Works great.

There are some individual apps that don't work quite the way I want them to, but this works great for everything that I really wanted to use it for. Typing on that tiny keyboard can be an issue, but that's hardware, not the OS, and I accepted that when I got this computer.

Never really understood the OS holy wars. A computer does what you want it to do or it doesn't. I've had that with Windows, Mac, and even Ubuntu Linux. That desktop that I'll be getting, I'm kind of leaning toward Linux rather than Mac.

February 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMarco

Vista. Nobody liked it. I tried it.... and it wasn't too bad, but nothing about it was better, and lots of things were worse.

Windows 7 was different. Lots of people seemed okay with it. I tried it, and I liked it.

Windows 8 seems more like Vista. Lots of bad, nothing good... I know a lot of people who have it and none of them like it. Some people are apathetic.

February 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDrowlord

Interesting spread of opinions - I'm talking about the number of immensely detailed and perfectly serious discussions of the real-life technical issues involved in what Scott sums up in few speech-bubbles compared with the number of people who understand why Missy doesn't get what all the fuss is about.

February 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCount Otto Black

"Win 8 has two interfaces. There's the part designed for use on tablets, which has tablet optimized full-screen apps and a web browser that is meant for smaller screens. That's the one they were referring to. The other interface is WINDOWS AS YOU'VE ALWAYS KNOWN IT."
I got a Windows 8 laptop for my birthday. I'll go ahead and admit right now that I'm an idiot, but how do I "set it" to be the not-tablet-optimized interface?

Note from Scott: You're not an idiot. Microsoft has done a terrible job of making this clear. On your home screen, there should be a tile that says "Desktop." Selecting that will take you to the old familiar Windows desktop. If the tile isn't there then down in the apps page there should be an icon that says "Desktop."

February 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJane

I love my Surface 2 Pro. It's a tablet and a "real computer" at the same time! It does "real computer" things like VPN, Remote Desktop, Visual Studio, and (last but not least) Steam. Of course the version I got also cost as much as a tablet and a real computer at the same time. =)

Windows 8.1 was made for touch-screens. I'd probably be mildly confused if my first experience with it was on a desktop. It still works fine on a desktop, of course, but the touch and stylus input is where it shines and why it is the way it is.

February 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJan

@Kristina L:
There is one thing that really works better in Windows 7: Video Codecs. They were an awful mess in XP, and trying to fix that tends to be a ticket to Blue Screen Land until you wipe your HD and reinstall everything.
Oh, and the new versions of DirectX won't run on XP, so good luck with newer games - but that's not really an advantage of 7, that's just Microsoft abusing their market position.
Other than that, I can't think of anything either, but at least they didn't mess up as badly as Vista or 8 and produced something mostly usable (although the desktop is a resource hog compared to XP, even with designs switched off).
If you just want something to work with (and don't need software that requires Windows and won't run on Wine), I'd say screw Microsoft and go for Ubuntu or some other GNU/Linux. By now, it is at least as usable as the Microsoft stuff, but generally more reliable, and you get more competent support on the Internet.

February 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAutolykos

Scott almost won the last panel, but he should have omitted the first half of his sentence, up to and including the "and".

February 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJonesey

now I've forgotten whether I came here for the comic, or for technical advice

February 26, 2014 | Unregistered Commentertarget

"I like that they tried something new. They didn’t get it perfect the first time. Who ever does?"

*ahem* ... Apple.

Okay jokes aside, I do appreciate anyone that tries to do something innovative and new, but this Win 8 is a "Phantom Menace" level disaster. I'm a Mac guy at home, but I've used MS products exclusively at work for fifteen years, so I'm quite capable with them.

Frankly, I think Scott just undersells the irritation associated with everything in Win 8 (desktop) being in just a slightly different place, and particularly of this being the case even though it LOOKS IDENTICAL to Windows 7. Of all the design decisions they made, keeping the look of Windows 7 was the worst, because it automatically tells your brain to look for something in a place it won't be - I don't have anywhere near as hard a time in the tablet section, because I'm actively thinking "where is X?" and finding it pretty quickly, rather than always clicking the wrong place for something that has been in that spot for me since the Bush administration.

Finally, I just do not understand the appeal of this Frankenstein's monster, all-in-one, PC, tablet, phone OS. I mean why did MS do it? If it was such a big deal to run Word on your tablet (and I can think of few people for who this would be a selling point) just write a tablet OS to run Office. Why would you think you could design one OS that could be maximally efficient across three completely different form factors? I won't say it's impossible, but it's at least extremely difficult and no one was asking for this.


Note from Scott: Really? You're going to claim that Apple does things perfectly right now? Do you not read the news?

As you say, kidding aside, I was just expressing my opinion. Moving things only irritated me until I learned where they were now. Windosws search helped a lot with that. As for the appeal of one OS, it does probably complicate some things, but again, a small, inexpensive tablet that is also a full PC, and a desktop PC that can run Word Feud and other inexpensive tablet games are both pretty compelling for me. Asphalt 8 on a big monitor with an xbox controller is a really fun game.

February 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDave

Sadly, Windows 8 lacks a "previous versions" feature, and ShadowExplorer isn't really a perfect substitute.

February 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRudu

I decided recently that Microsoft must have a Windows A-Team and a Windows B-Team. The A-Team gets to work on the big risks in Windows that usually end up meh. They worked on Windows Vista & Windows 8. The B-Team gets to work on the Windows that is built on the lessons learned from the previous release. They made Windows 7.

I decided to wait until the non-risk taking team releases Windows 9 before I'll upgrade my computer.

Whether or not any of that is true, the next Windows will have learned from the mistakes of its predecessor and will be "safe" to use.

February 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKG

I just realized what Basic Instructions is missing: a score.

One day, when I'm not, say, teaching myself differential geometry or polishing my Nobel Peace Prize Runner-Up, I'm gonna go through the archives and take score for each character: who wins panels, who wins whole strips, and who are Rocket Hat and win everything.

This is totally a good use of my time, I am certain.

February 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDevinC
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