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Should you upgrade to Windows 8? (+video)

Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system will launch on Friday. Should you upgrade right away?

Windows 8 brings new terminology, iPad trade-ins are on the rise, and a gadget adds sound effects to costumes.
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Operating-system upgrades tend to garner a lot of excitement from end users, both in the consumer and business spheres. That hype can lead many to undertake a potentially costly upgrade before it's necessary, or wise, to do so.

With Microsoft's Windows 8 hitting the open market on Oct. 26, there are many factors that can help you decide whether or not you or your business should upgrade right away. We'll examine both the benefits and the potential problems with immediate upgrades, plus a loose estimate of the cost of upgrading.

The basics, only better

One of the biggest benefits for day-to-day Windows use is the enhancement that Windows 8 brings to the basic functioning of the operating system.

"First, Windows 8 is faster than its predecessor in startup times — much faster," said Mike Romp, a senior consultant at SWC Technology Partners in Oak Brook, Ill. "This is due to Windows 8's ability to hibernate just the system kernel. Windows 8 will also run on any machine capable of running Windows 7. 

"Second, users who upgrade can run the new Windows 8 applications," Romp said. "This probably won't be a deciding factor for many organizations, but the number of Windows 8 applications is expanding every day. Eventually, users will be able to run the exact same applications across all devices, from desktops to tablets to smartphones."

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