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Solutions: Windows 7 or Windows 8?

I have a problem similar to the person who wrote you not long ago. Like the writer of that question, I have an older computer with Windows XP. You suggested buying a new computer with Windows 8. A friend of mine advised me to get a new computer with Windows 7 because Windows 8 has problems with interface and touch screen configurations that make it difficult to use. Do you have an opinion about this matter?

There is no doubt that most people are more comfortable with the Windows 7 interface than the Windows 8 dual environment interface. I've written about how badly Microsoft missed the mark with Windows 8 many times, and you might expect me to vote for Windows 7. But I'm not. I'm hesitant to recommend old technology even in this case. Windows 7 is almost 5 years old already. Not a big consideration now, but what about five years from now? Well within the lifespan of any PC you buy today.

Windows 8 requires a bit of a learning curve, but it doesn't take long before you work around a few of the interface quirks. They are slowly moving in the right direction. Rumors are that they will have another update by the end of the year that will restore the Start button with the Programs menu. And you can always load one of the Windows 7 emulators such as the free Classic Shell (ClassicShell.net), which will make Windows 8 look and act just like Windows 7.

I've written about some of the good things you get with Windows 8 before, such as better security, speed, File History (backup) and PC/Internet search integration. But here's something that doesn't get a lot of attention: Windows 8 was the first Windows to fully exploit UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface). This used to be known as BIOS (Basic Input/Output System). It's how the hardware knows what to do once you switch on the power. Windows 8 Secure Boot features UEFI to make the boot process resistant to malware, such as bootkits and the various rootkits, that activate before Windows completely loads and your antivirus kicks in. That's a pretty significant security upgrade. Go to http://technet.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/dn168167.aspx for more nuts and bolts on UEFI and the secure Windows 8 boot process.

I have a Toshiba Satellite laptop running Window 7. I have installed McAfee Virus & Spyware Protection Control and Web & Email Protection. My question is, do I need to continue with McAfee or am I better off with another protection software? I run Malwarebytes AntiMalware every two weeks or so. Occasionally, this program has found malware on my computer, which I immediately remove. Apparently, this malware has not been identified by McAfee. A second concern is that the McAfee software may be slowing down my computer. Should I cancel my McAfee subscription?

A large part of malware and virus detection is more art than science. You will always have differences between products, and keep in mind that while MalwareBytes and McAfee have some overlap, they are serving different purposes. You're probably correct in that McAfee is slowing down your PC; it's a heavy duty piece of software. That's not necessarily a bad thing as long as it's doing the job. I am a big fan of, "if it's not broke don't fix it." So if things are going well, maybe it's best to leave things as is. However, if you do go with Microsoft Security Essentials, make sure you download it first without installing, then uninstall McAfee, and then install Security Essentials from the downloaded image.

I have an Acer laptop and Windows 7. Recently, when I am typing an email or Word document, the text starts skipping out of sequence. What would cause this?

Just for grins, try turning off the touchpad. I think on an Acer, it may be pressing the fn key along with F7. See if the skipping stops. If it does, it may mean you were inadvertently brushing your palm across the touchpad when typing. Repeating the fn/F7 sequence should toggle the touchpad functionality back on.

Send questions to personaltech@tampabay.com or Personal Tech, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Questions are answered only in this column.

Solutions: Windows 7 or Windows 8? 05/16/14 [Last modified: Friday, May 16, 2014 8:51pm]
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