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.More from Mossberg here
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.
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):