|Now that it’s released, this article has been superseded by Should I upgrade to Windows 8? – please read that for my current thinking on Windows 8.
This is a question that I want to head off before damage has been done.
No, you should not give Windows 8 a try.
Or, perhaps I’ll put it this way: if you have to ask the question, the
answer is no. If you’re not sure, the answer is no.
I’ll explain why I’m taking such a hard line about Windows 8 at this point
As I write this, a Windows 8 “preview” edition has been made available for people to see what’s changing in the next version of Windows.
Microsoft’s goal in releasing this edition is presumably to get early feedback on proposed changes and there are many changes as Windows 8 appears to be improving its ability to target tablet computers.
I’m also sure that part of the reason for the release is to begin generating buzz about the upcoming version. I’d expect to see more incremental releases as Microsoft continues to ramp up to Windows 8’s eventual release.
Why you should stay away from Windows 8 for now
A preview release isn’t even a beta release.
In other words, it’s going to have problems and it’s going to change – possibly in significant ways – before it’s formally completed and released.
In other, other words: running Windows 8 today puts everything on your computer at risk of loss. It could have serious security and privacy issues and it could have bugs that would cause significant data loss.
That’s not a reflection in any way on Windows 8’s eventual quality at release time.
It’s the practical reality of one simple fact: Windows 8 isn’t finished yet.
It hasn’t even reached a stage where Microsoft is comfortable labeling a Beta version and I strongly recommend that you avoid those as well.
Preview and Beta versions aren’t meant for daily use and they aren’t meant for the average consumer.
Who should try Windows 8?
I believe that the Windows 8 preview release is aimed at two distinct audiences:
The press, technology pundits, and people that other people listen to. As I mentioned above, it’s about generating buzz for the next version of Windows.
Software developers who are working on software that will run on Windows 8 and possibly take advantage of some of its new features. They need to begin writing and testing their applications to make sure that they work and testing Windows 8 itself to make sure that it works.
If you’re in one of those two categories – a) you probably wouldn’t be asking the question, hence the hard line that I’m taking in this article for everyone else, and b) you’ll know how to work with it safely.
If you’re not in one of those two categories, you shouldn’t be thinking about Windows 8 at this time.
If you can’t resist
If you can’t contain yourself and absolute must play with this latest version of Windows before it’s released, I have only one word of advice:
Assume that your machine will crash and that everything on it will be lost.
That’s the only safe way to play with pre-release versions of any software, particularly operating systems.
As for me, I’m not going to try. There’s enough to do supporting Windows 7 and previous versions that I won’t be answering any Windows 8 related issues until much closer to its release.
And I’m not even going to quote current estimates for when that’ll be, simply because much like the software itself, it’ll change.