Under the hood, Windows 8 offers significant advantages over previous operating systems. Its memory management is superior, leading to faster boot times and more efficient multi-tasking. Windows 8 also improved internal security and is more resistant to many of the malware attacks that plague Windows 7 (and earlier) operating systems. Programs running in the Metro interface are segregated from the rest of the system, so problems affecting an individual app shouldn’t wreak havoc on the entire system.
However, the advantages gained by upgrading to Windows 8 from an earlier version of Windows are rarely significant enough to justify the expense. The best prices to be found for a software upgrade license hovers around $100, that cost does not include labor charges, and the performance benefits of Windows 8 will be lessened by the aging hardware of the old computer. Older programs are pretty much guaranteed to work in Windows 7, but may not be compatible after an upgrade to Windows 8. Additionally, machines more than three to four years old are likely designed around a 32-bit operating systems, and the greatest benefits of Windows 8 come from using a 64-bit operating system.
Should you upgrade your old computer to Windows 8? Almost certainly not, unless you purchased a state-of-the-art and touch-capable system a few years back and would like to get better use out of the touch screen. For business use, I strongly urge customers to consider a Windows 7 downgrade, and likely will continue to do so until they are no longer available. For home use, the cost of an upgrade license as well as the possible complications that go along with upgrading an operating system make it an unwise investment.
Windows 8 runs best on new hardware, particularly hardware with a touchscreen. If Microsoft’s new operating system is something you are interested in trying out, you would be far better served buying a new system than upgrading your old one.