New Win8.1 update - how much more like Win7?

My niche is customizing and selling computers to the "technologically challenged", mainly individuals age 50+.  I have been selling lots of Win7 computers because of Win8.  I have customized a few Win8 computers for customers using Classic Shell. They seem to do OK with it but don’t like it as much as straight Win7.  With the new Win8.1 update I'm wondering if it's time to take the plunge into Win8.  All things being equal I’d go with Win8 merely because Win7 will go out of support sooner.

Key questions:
1.      Is Win8.1 appreciably more secure than Win7?
2.      Does it run more efficiently?
3.     On the same machine will it give my customers more hardware upgrade options?
4.      Has anyone actually downloaded the new update?  Does it really make the machine
        look like Win7?  
5.     Any gotcha's you can think of in moving to Win8?
Alan SilvermanOwnerAsked:
Who is Participating?
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
1. Yes. Just as Windows 7 is more secure than Vista which is more secure that XP.
2. Yes. I have a Windows 7 Desktop and a Windows 8.1 Update 1 Laptop. The Laptop runs very smoothly and efficiently.
2a. No. Get a 64-bit machine and 4 to 8 Gb of memory. 1 Gb is inadequate. 2 Gb is marginal and I do not recommend it. 4 Gb is the reasonable minimum.
3. What do you mean? You need the hardware and drivers to support Windows 8.1 and they are not all the same as Windows 7. My Windows 8.1 laptop was new a year ago and came with Windows 8. Lenovo keeps the drivers up to date.
4. Yes, I have the latest update. Windows 8.1 Update 1 does not have a Start button. That comes in a future update. You can now right click on the start icon and have a context menu that is nice.

I added a toolbar (right side) to give me ALL my applications on the desktop. This works in Windows 8, 8.1 and 8.1 Update 1.

5. Yes. I had to upgrade most of my software, my A/V, my VPN and a host of other things. Do not imagine that legacy software will all run.

Keep in mind that Windows 8.1 is a stand alone operating system and not a service pack to Windows 8. I have software that had to be upgraded to get to Windows 8.1. Update 1 is an update only for Windows 8.1 and was pretty benign.

I have no regrets and I made it all work. I still have my retired Windows 7 laptop and no desire to return to it. I will replace my desktop sometime this year with a Windows 8.1 desktop.
1.      Is Win8.1 appreciably more secure than Win7?
Secure boot should,but you need to use it from the BIOS and use uefi.
2.      Does it run more efficiently?
Tests say it is faster and more memory efficient.
Should run OK in 1 to two gig ram.
3.     On the same machine will it give my customers more hardware upgrade options?
No,all drivers that work for W7 are essentially the same.
4.      Has anyone actually downloaded the new update?  Does it really make the machine look like Win7?  
Yes,and no it does not look like W7.
5.     Any gotcha's you can think of in moving to Win8?
I have had the shell programs cause issues (startx) with system crashes and hangs.
WSUS has a major bug with the update(server 2003).
Sam Simon NasserIT Support ProfessionalCommented:
a brief answer:
windows 7 stills proves it's strengths, but if you have new computer or computer that can run windows, install windows 8

for my clients (i have a computer shop) i install windows 8.1, with start menu (classic shell as you mentioned, but i use stardock start8), and let the windows go directly to desktop upon log in ... this way they will feel their selves in windows 7, but with alot of extra features.

check the attached image for my desktop, 8.1
8.1 desktop
Free Tool: Path Explorer

An intuitive utility to help find the CSS path to UI elements on a webpage. These paths are used frequently in a variety of front-end development and QA automation tasks.

One of a set of tools we're offering as a way of saying thank you for being a part of the community.


pgm554 pretty much summed it up so I will just give my 0.02.  Focusing on Qs 4 and 5.

Windows 8.1 brings back the start button in the lower left corner which was not there in Windows 8.0.  That itself was a major plus.

The latest Windows 8.1 update just released last week was meant to make it more comfortable for keyboard/mouse users.  It does not make it look any more like Windows 7, but one of the key features I found was you can now minimize metro apps to the taskbar and when moving the mouse off top screen, you see the classic explorer options of minimize and close (the _ and X respectively).  There is also now a power button on the start screen now too.

You still have the full screen start menu which has a learning curve.  If you want to make it as simple as possible for your users, setup the machines so that all of their program shortcuts are on the first page of the start screen.  And organize them by groups there with the same size tiles.

Microsoft plans another Windows 8.1 update later this year which will enable metro apps to run in classic style windows instead of full screen.  There are 3rd party apps that already achieve this.  Example would be a program called ModernMix by Stardock.

If you want to have Windows 7 start menu back in Windows 8, another program by Stardock does that too called Start8.  Theses are not free but if you do want a free alternative, checkout Classic Shell.  This is probably as close to Windows 7 as it will get.
The problem with 64 bit machines is that not all drivers will work with legacy (hear that HP)devices.

If everything you have is bright ,new and shiny,then 64 bit is the way to go.

I have had many issues with legacy drivers and 64 bit (printers scanners ).

Many legacy software programs do not support 64 bit OS(Great Pains Financials,QuickBooks Webex online).

Touch screen browsers for some browsers (Firefox)are probably not going to be supported for a while.

Drivers for W8 are still flaky,I 've got an Intel Centrino wireless chipset that is not so stable.

As for memory ,M$ did make the memory footprint smaller to work with tablets and such.
I said it will run OK,not great.

If it were me,I would stick with 7,most of what breaks has been well documented.

W8 doesn't have that well documented history yet..

Windows 8 reminds me of the old Helen Keller joke about how her parents would punish her by moving the furniture around.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Every driver, the BIOS and the Chipset is all new with Windows 8.1 Legacy stuff does not work at all or else poorly on the newest operating system.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
@alanlsilverman - one thing to consider because of drivers and other technical software would be to keep existing computers on Windows 7 if they came that way and only use Windows 8 on new computers that come OEM with Windows 8.
David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
I personally don't know what the hubbub is about. press the start button and then either group by most recently installed or by category.. you should find what you need easily or simply type a few letters of the program you want and then click on it..

Simpler than every so often sort the start menu by name Modern (Metro) apps are easier for almost everyone.. i.e. seniors that will only be using a few items like mail, internet browsing and perhaps a few games like solitaire/chess.. and of course easy access to their grand kids photo's

People objected to Windows XP (too candyish they wanted progman back.. Windows 7 is simply an evolution of Windows XP (it has a lot of improvements over XP) but where Windows 98Se was good enough then windows xp was good enough now windows 7 is considered good enough.. go with the flow times change as the years go by..  I grew up with the beginning of the micro computer age and things have changed tremendously over time. Heck I ran one of the largest BBS's in the area having 7 x 750M cdrom's and 2 x 1GB hard drives (@ $1500 each) on a 486DX2 then a Pentium 100... My modems (plural) were busy 24/7 and now we have the internet age and 4TB Hard drives are commodity items. Flexibility is something you have to be if you want to be involved in this industry.
Alan SilvermanOwnerAuthor Commented:
Hi David Johnson,
I've been in the industry a while too.  First in mainframe software support.  Then through Dos, Win3.1, 95, 98, Millennium, XP, Vista, Win7 and Win8.  

The fuss is that most people do not want to learn something if they don’t have to. There are good reasons for this. Learning takes time and that time is not immediately productive. When a software company like Microsoft capriciously changes an interface they destroy time and knowledge.  Even if it’s something a small as the placement of an icon.  Move it and knowledge of how to find that icon is destroyed. Microsoft changes whole interfaces for no good reason.  If it takes an hour to relearn the new interface, Microsoft wasted an hour of that person’s time.  If it takes five, 10 or 20 hours or more (often the case when someone is older and went into computers later in life) then you have wasted 5, 10, 20… hours of that person’s time, for no reason.  

Computers are necessary tools in people’s lives. Microsoft can capriciously change interfaces, as they did to horrible effect with Millennium, Vista and now Win8, because they have a monopoly.  Ordinary people have no easy way out of the relationship.  They have to take what Microsoft gives them.

Millennium and Vista were steps down in terms of resource use.  Vista literally did not run with less than 2GB of ram.  They were full of bugs.  Millennium took the relatively stable Win98SE and created a monstrosity. All the while advertising how good the new software was.  

I care about my customers. I have to advise them the best I can. People have work to do on computers. Learning only makes sense if you can get back the time spent learning something new. That’s what the hubbub's all about.
Best regards,
Alan SilvermanOwnerAuthor Commented:
Logical map of the problem:

If Win8 is clearly superior to Win7 in terms of reliability, security and resource use
    Go with Win8.
Because Win7 goes out of currency sooner, all else being equal    
    Go with Win8
If serious questions exist in terms of Win8’s reliability, security and resource use
     Go with Win7.

In terms of interface:
Can I make Win8 look close enough to Win7 so my customers are comfortable with it?
   Keep Win7
   Go to Win7
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Can I make Win8 look close enough to Win7 so my customers are comfortable with it?

You can get very close.  Windows 8.1 Update 1 has a context menu off the start button which is helpful.

I add a toolbar to the right side with everything on it. It merely move the start from left to right. I got used to it very quickly.

Add a new toolbar called:  %ProgramData%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs
Alan SilvermanOwnerAuthor Commented:
You've been a great help.
Thanks you,
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
@alanlsilverman - Thank you and I was happy to help you with this.
Question has a verified solution.

Are you are experiencing a similar issue? Get a personalized answer when you ask a related question.

Have a better answer? Share it in a comment.

All Courses

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.