Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Walt Mossberg: 3 Very Important Tips for Choosing a Windows 8 Laptop.

It looks like you can make some very serious mistakes in buying a Windows 8 laptop. Walt Mossberg has some important buying tips (My highlights):
Windows 8 comes in two versions, plain Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro. Laptops with the latter have a handful of extra features that make it easier to connect with many corporate networks from home. So, if you need that ability, look for a laptop with the Pro version.

But there is an even trickier division. Some new Windows portables, like Microsoft's first computer, the Surface, use a variant of Windows 8 called Windows RT. Regular Windows 8 lets you run all the traditional desktop programs in Windows 7, like Microsoft Office 2010, Chrome, Quicken or iTunes. However, RT doesn't run these common programs. Windows RT machines mostly run the new tablet-type apps that work in the Start Screen. They come with a special version of Microsoft Office, but it omits Outlook. So, if you want to use old Windows programs, don't buy an RT machine.

Touch Screen or Not

Windows 8 is a "touch first" operating system. It can be operated with a mouse or touch pad, but its newest, coolest component, the Start Screen, and the tablet-like apps sold for that environment via Microsoft's online store, are best used with touch. And there are some traditional laptops, like Acer's slender Aspire S7, with touch screens to complement their touch pads and keyboards.

However, many if not most Windows 8 laptops available right now lack touch screens. On a visit to a Best Buy store this week, I found the retailer promoting only three touch-screen ultrabooks, slim, light, well-equipped Windows laptops. There were a few larger well-equipped touch-screen models and one low-end model. All the others used standard screens.

Because I believe Windows 8's tablet-style mode works best with a touch screen, I don't advise buying a Windows 8 laptop without one.

Tablet or Convertible

Unlike Apple, Microsoft has no separate tablet operating system. Windows 8 was designed to run both tablets and standard computers. In my tests, I have found it runs well, maybe even best, on tablets, which can have add-on keyboards to handle traditional desktop programs. But there are a number of laptops, called convertibles, whose screens can flip, or slide, or twist, so they cover the keyboard and look like tablets.

Don't rely on these convertibles for extended use as tablets. The ones I've seen are too heavy and bulky for more than occasional use in tablet mode. If you use a tablet heavily, stick with an iPad, an Android tablet, or a Windows 8 or Windows RT machine that's actually a tablet.


Windows 8 and other system files appear to take up a lot more of your storage space than Windows 7. On the Lenovo Yoga laptop I reviewed last week, only 70 gigabytes of the 128 gigabytes of storage are available to the user. Get at least a 500 gigabyte hard disk or a 256 gigabyte solid-state drive.
More from Mossberg here


  1. Very timely post, I was just thinking about your Summer post: wait to buy a computer this Fall.

    I've been looking at Mac's though.

    Now, maybe more-so.

  2. Use Ubuntu, forget about the companies that are more concerned with enforcing their patents than developing new technologies. It's fast, easy, and open source. Plus you get no viruses.

  3. Use Ubuntu, forget about the companies that are more concerned with enforcing their patents than developing new technologies. It's fast, easy, and open source. Plus you get no viruses.

    1. I use Ubuntu @ home and love it. I can't do it in business due to cross platform issues and specific software issues unfortunately. Even the emulators don't cut it in my case.


  4. TF, above, is correct.

    Linux is a powerful alternative to the M$ monopoly.
    In the old days, it was called the Wintel Monopoly. Roll out a bug filled, unworkable system and get the press (Like PC Magazine...)to do your ad work.
    "You just gotta upgrade...". They even changed their signature word processor program so you would have to navigate "up".

    I use PCLinuxOS (PCLOS) and it is extremely powerful. LibreOffice comes to dance as FREE Software. There are now several companies preloading Ubuntu onto laptops and that's just Ducky - or mebbe "Penguiny". You can choose MANY different desktop programs (I use the KDE).

    Do a little spelunking and you will find that there are quite a few people who are quite critical of Win-8.

    You DON'T have to "upgrade" into hype, unless you want to. It's your money - or not.

    Charles Wilson

  5. Apple products are overpriced, build your own machine! Windows 8 is perfectly fine on a desktop, I have it on two computers that use programs that are very resource intensive, with no issues. Buying a computer from Apple or Dell ensures that you are paying a hefty premium for hardware that is far fromavant garde! Learn to build your own from acratch!

  6. Haha... you guys are funny, with Linux comments when the post talks about connectivity and options for corporate work.

    You are better of getting a Mac, but even that is very sketchy.

    A few points about the post though:

    - WindowsRT is not available on any "laptop" form factors; there are only two WinRT machines out there now; the Asus VivoTab and Microsoft Surface. They are both really tablets with keyboard options. So I guess there is some truth here too - you could be mistaken, so the point is somewhat valid.
    - Windows 8 does NOT in fact take much more space than Windows 7. Lenovo is at fault here. See this for more information:


    Golly, it's so difficult to find good halos these days, isn't it?

    Once again, the criticisms of Microsoft seem right on target. Microsoft comes out with a New System and they count on a compliant stable of Newsies to do their ad work. Oh! BTW, they have run some ad work on their own. Remember the ad series, "Plays Well with Others?", touting M$s ability to get along with other OSs? Ummm...Let's just call it another example of "Serial Untruths".

    Fear. Uncertainty. Doubt. FUD. Always a mainstay of Microsoft.

    Lookit. I don't care what you run. Run DRDos for all I care. Just don't expect everyone to fall down and worship the Temple Lights at Redmond. Don't scream that Win-8 is all ready for Bidness. It ain't and there are alternatives. Linux is one alternative. Mac is another.

    And don't pretend that the "Secure Boot" fiasco is all accidental.
    "'N you can look it up..."

    Charles Wilson