Windows 7 vs. Windows 8: Why Videographers Shouldn’t Upgrade

There have been a lot of advertisements for Windows 8 on television and in magazines lately, showing off the new features of the OS. Microsoft really wants you to upgrade, and is lobbying hard for you to do it. While I admit it looks a bit fancy, I needed to know how it compared to the previous versions of Windows. The answer is not so good, I’m afraid.

Windows 8 has left behind key features of its previous versions in favor of a new flamboyant tablet-style interface that looks out of place on a desktop, and performs even worse. They’ve essentially gutted Windows. Everything good Microsoft has done — not just for Windows, but for computing in general — has been thrown away. No more legacy support. No more integration. Forced connections to the Internet.

While techie geeks will love it, businesses users and serious user will not. And that includes videographers.

Using Windows 7 — my OS of choice — I installed a legitimate copy of Windows 8 into a VirtualBox virtual machine to test it out. Here’s just a few ways that Windows 8 will be a nuisance…

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No More Multitasking

To start with — pun intended! — the Start menu is gone, replaced by the Start screen, which looks like a bad mishmash of iOS, Android, and Windows. Multitasking between programs has become a nuisance now because of this. In order to start a new program, you have to leave the desktop, go to the start screen, launch the program you want, then wait as it swaps screens back to the desktop. That’s a bit of wasted resources that could better be used when encoding videos or recording audio.

Integrated Virtual Machines for Legacy Support

Most videographers still need Windows XP. Some of the best hardware and software ever made — ATI All In Wonder cards, for example — can only work on that OS. Avoiding legacy support is simple not possible. Even for those who kept up with the changing times, and have upgraded to Windows 7, they probably use XP Mode, the VM technology that is available in Win7 Professional.

If you’re unfamiliar with XP Mode, it’s a full featured VM of Windows XP that is integrated into Windows 7. It allows you to seamlessly run older software and hardware that normally doesn’t work with Windows 7, and does so without a problem.

If you’re one of those who use XP Mode for its seamless integration, then forget about upgrading to Windows 8. Neither XP Mode nor Microsoft Virtual PC are supported in Windows 8. You would have to install and run a third-party virtual machine like VMware or Oracles VirtualBox, and have a legitimate copy of Windows XP. Both are great programs, but they lack that integration that XP Mode brings — not to mention XP Mode is free with Windows 7 Professional!

No Free Freeware?

It seems that this new Windows 8 wants to nickel and dime you to death, not to mention keep an eye on your activity. After install, it wanted me to sign in with a Microsoft Live account to be my User Account. I opted to skip out on that in favor of a traditional User Account, but it seems that in order to buy anything from the Windows 8 store — even the free stuff! — you must sign in to a Live account.

The new Media Player 12 seemed to work nicely, so I decided to start with a DVD. Well, Windows 8 doesn’t come with DVD playback support! So that went nowhere fast. You have to purchase a plug-in pack from Microsoft for Media Player to get that functionality. Anyone wanting to test DVD playback for their video work will have to find another program, or shell out the money to Microsoft.

Customization Made Easy Hard

At this point, I figured I would try to customize the system some. That’s what serious users do, after all. Well, easier said than done.

Simple finding the control panel was a bit of a pain, as its not part of the start screen. There is actually an obscure sidebar that comes into view when you place your mouse into the corner of the screen. From here you can manually access the start screen, or click on a cog icon to access some more options, including the control panel as well as shutting down and restarting the machine. (You would figure that Shut Down and Restart would be in a easily accessible place like the Start screen.)

Speaking of lack of functionality, the Windows 8 version of Windows Mail does not support POP email accounts anymore. While Windows Mail was a free separate download for Windows 7, it at least gave you that full functionality for POP accounts.

The Bottom Line

From a business point of view, Windows 8 left behind the essentials of a business machine in favor of becoming an OS for the bleeding edge tech fanboy tablet user. Again, the OS is probably great for a tablet, but let’s be honest — nobody is going to do serious business work on a tablet. So it seems that Windows 7 is the last serious OS for companies who want to keep workflow and multitasking a priority.

Windows 8 is just not a good use of your time; I’d rather spend time on my videos. I don’t know about you, but I’ll be sticking with Windows 7 for a while. I’ll be in the studio if you need me!

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