Starting June 2, anyone who buys a new Windows 7 PC will be able to upgrade to Windows 8 for $15 once the new operating system launches. The deal provides an upgrade to Windows 8 Pro from any version of Windows 7, and will be valid until January 31, 2013.
But if you have any interest in Windows 8 at all, you should skip this deal and wait for new hardware designed with the operating system in mind.
Hardware will play a big role in the allure of Windows 8. Because the OS is meant to accommodate touchscreens, many PC makers are working on laptop-tablet hybrids. Some of the devices may have detachable keyboards, like Asus’ Transformer line of Android tablets, while others may be convertible, like Lenovo’s Yoga or Intel’s Cove Point reference design. Given the emphasis Windows 8 will place on touch controls, you should at least wait to see what these PC makers come up with.
Even if you’re not interested in touchscreens, you’ll still want to wait for Windows 8 laptops with trackpads designed for the OS. Microsoft is working with Synaptics and other companies to build gesture control drivers for these laptops, but to work properly, they’ll need edge detection. By swiping from the edges, users will be able to bring up the multitasking menu, shut down Metro-style apps, or open the charms bar. Laptops that can’t do this will miss out on a big part of the Windows 8 experience.
Exceptions to this buying advice: Buyers of desktop PCs without touchscreen monitors, and people who are so disgusted by the concept of Windows 8 that they are purposely getting a Windows 7 PC to avoid the new operating system.