consultants are sandburs

Friday, April 11, 2014

Windows 8, and Chrome OS; in light of Microsoft's ending extended [free] update support of Windows XP.

With Win XP meeting its end, some readers might be looking to change systems, economically. Chromebooks are being pushed as lower cost/performance options, especially for school use.

However, you can get an 8-inch high resolution touch-controlled Windows 8 tablet or a full Windows 8 Acer laptop from MicroCenter for $230, not touch screen but with mouse and keyboard capability [touchpad if you prefer that to a cordless mouse]. That price point, try to find a Chromebook priced there, with comparable memory. There is one Acer model for $200, with an 11-inch screen, but the price difference is minimal and the Windows 8 units will run legacy applications. Photoshop and Office users might pay attention.

If an onscreen touch keyboard meets your needs, the tablet is compact, but bigger than some Android models while smaller than an iPad. Some Android models are larger, but as with an iPad, higher priced.

Unless gaming use is contemplated where more processor power and a GPU is desired, instead for the things a Chromebook is marketed for, the Windows 8 options are price/quality competitive. BestBuy has an Acer model at $250, but the MicroCenter offering is quad-core vs dual-core [the dual core processor does have a higher clock speed].

BOTTOM LINE: Low end Win8 equipment is being sold, and it is adequate for most purposes. If somebody steals your laptop it's better it be one priced under two-fifty, than a thousand dollar model.

Also, while there are reviews online whining about Windows 8 and the Microsoft Store offerings, it is simple to use one of the low-end Win8 laptops in desktop mode, with little difference from the Win XP or Win7 interfaces. And update support for Win8 will not expire until 2020, even as now scheduled without any extended support beyond that yet offered. Finally, Win8.1 was recently updated at the multi-megabyte level, and seems fully stable and user friendly.

[NOTE: links/prices are as of time/date of posting, and the two mentioned merchants often change pricing]

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