ComTech: IT Support Stirling

Is Windows 8 in danger of becoming the next Vista?

First off I personally think that Windows 8 is far superior to Windows Vista.  It is more secure and much faster and on a touchscreen it is a pleasure to use. It seams though that quite a few people just do not like it as shown by the market share figures for June 2014. So what is the problem?

The main problem with Windows 8 is its split personality.  It is designed for touchscreens but at its launch there weren’t many about and on a traditional laptop or  PC it can be clunky.  Then there is the Start screen (which I actually like) which a lot of users just hate and users having to retrain to actually use the new interface didn’t go down well either.

Put Windows 8 on a touchscreen tablet (where it really belongs) and it does start to make sense.  I have a client with a Surface 2 (yes the Windows RT one) which is lovely to use.  The swipe gestures and moving around the OS with your finger is a joy.  Yes it does have its issues with lack of apps but that is another blog!!

Microsofts biggest problem is that business customers were never going to switch to Windows 8 in huge droves due to the retraining costs and have instead switched to the tried and tested Windows 7.  This leaves the home market where tablets have overtaken laptops and PC’s thereby squeezing out Windows. Windows 8 should have been developed purely for PC’s and laptops (businesses would have preferred this and uptake would have been higher) and develop a separate OS for tablets (and do not call it Windows).  Windows RT can (and possibly should) be used for this purpose but it would need a complete rebrand as people still expect to run Windows programs on it.

At this point people generally bring up the Surface line of hybrids stating that Microsoft got it right and Surface is the proof.  The Surface Pro 3 is a cracking piece of kit and if I had the money I would seriously consider buying one but that is the problem – they cost too much.  Pricing something in MacBook Air territory generally doesn’t work as Windows is seen as “for everyone” whilst Apple products are seen as “premium”.  Maybe I will be proven wrong (it won’t be the first time) but somehow I doubt it.

Windows 9 is due to be released early next year and when it does I can honestly see Windows 8’s market share start to go the same way as Windows Vista, which would be a shame as it does have some good qualities but it just can’t make its mind up what it wants to be.

About the Author


Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows, Mac and Linux based IT Support to small businesses in Stirling, Alloa and Falkirk.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter




Upgrade or buy new? Choices, choices….

It is the age old question. When is the right time to change my computer, whether it be a laptop, PC or tablet? The answer as always is there is no right answer as it all depends on the systems in question and what they are been using for.

Lets take an example.

I was asked to quote a client a while back to migrate them from Windows XP to Windows 7.  On inspection of their systems it was clear that two of them needed replacing (calling the systems ancient would be polite) but two could very easily run Windows 7 with a memory upgrade.  The client was shocked at this.  In their mind because the two systems were 5 years old they must be past it and they needed new ones.  I pointed out that they were only accessing files on a local server, word processing, a couple of spreadsheets, emails and some internet browsing so they weren’t exactly getting taxed.  In this scenario it made more sense to spend a relatively little amount of money upgrading the two systems in question than purchase two new ones.

It is the same with Windows Vista machines.  Most systems running Vista could easily run Windows 7 with a memory upgrade rather than purchasing new systems.  You would probably be running 32 bit software but unless you are a power user you are unlikely to notice the difference in performance. The reason I am saying Windows 7 and not Windows 8 is that for all the advertising Windows 8 still confuses a lot of users (personally I like it).

The flip side of this of course are the businesses that refuse to change their systems when it is blindingly obvious they are not fit for purpose.  I have known clients in the past who wanted to upgrade systems rather than purchase systems thinking this would be the cheaper option.  I did try and point out that I would be very happy maintaining their systems but they would end up seeing me more than my wife does (and with me would come the bill).

As you can see there is no right or wrong answer to the question as it does depend on the state of the existing systems and what they are being used for.  When you start to think you need new systems ask yourself one question – what exactly do I need the system to do?

About the Author


Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows, Mac and Linux based IT Support to small businesses in Stirling, Alloa and Falkirk.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter



Windows Vista – the forgotten OS?

As the new kid on the block Microsoft is pushing Windows 8 hard.  They are also trying to get people still on XP to upgrade to either Windows 7 or even Windows 8, however there is no mention of that other OS Vista.  Now I know that Vista isn’t liked very much (by both the public and Microsoft itself) and Microsoft would rather it went away but the fact is it is still used by millions of people worldwide.  So lets take a look and see how bad it really is.

First the good points.

1. New flashier interface.  Vista looks good especially with the new Aero interface.  The icons look snappier and navigation around the menus is good.

2. The Network Center.  At last Microsoft put networking at the centre of the OS.  Setting up either a wired or wireless network on Vista is a breeze.

3. Security.  Vista is a lot more secure than its predecessor Windows XP. In XP the user runs with administrative privileges by default which means that if the system gets infected with a virus and that virus compromises the user account it would then have administrative privileges for the system.  This could not happen on Vista because of the UAC (User Account Control) which asks you to specify a password before you carry out administrative tasks.

4. Reliability and Performance Monitor.  I love this and was surprised Microsoft dropped the Reliability monitor from Windows 7.  The ability to produce reports about the current state of the system is invaluable from a troubleshooting point of view and coupled with the ability to monitor the system over a period of time using the Reliability Monitor is priceless.

Now onto the not so good stuff.

1. Resource hog.  To run Vista you require much beefier hardware than what was required for XP.  Vista loves memory and if you don’t have enough of it to say it is slow is an understatement.  You can run it on 1 Gb but watch what happens when you try installing software and actually using it.

2. Drivers.  When Vista came out it wasn’t compatible with a lot of the peripherals (eg printers) that users were using at the time.  This should be largely sorted but the damage to its reputation has been done.

3. Pricing.  Vista came in 6 different versions starting from Basic and ending up at Ultimate which cost a whopping £160 (approx).  This was more than its predecessor Windows XP.

4. The interface.  Yes the Vista interface was better but it was also too different from XP for a lot of customers.  Customers didn’t want to relearn how to use the system.

5. The UAC.  This was the biggest complaint from users by far.  When you try and do any administrative task in Vista the UAC appears and asks for a password (usually preceded by a blank screen) and shocks many users.  It is very intrusive and a lot of users turned it off which kind of defeats the purpose of having it there in the first place.

6. Windows 7.  Basically Windows 7 is what Vista should have been out of the blocks and because of this many people and businesses are bypassing Vista on their upgrade paths and going straight to Windows 7.

From a personal point of view I would rather work on a Vista system than an XP system anyday. With the inbuilt troubleshooting tools it is much easier to diagnose problems and fix them plus everytime I have had to reinstall XP on a system it never loads all the drivers. Vista doesn’t have this issue.  I will probably miss it when it eventually goes but I know of many that wont.

About the Author


Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows, Mac and Linux based IT Support to small businesses in Stirling, Alloa and Falkirk.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter








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