Hmmm… Time to upgrade to Windows 8?

Drat! My production machine has started to act up lately. Yesterday was a pretty extreme example, as this trace from Event Viewer will show:

The system restarted four times yesterday, but because it was a Sunday, I couldn't observe what happened.

The system restarted four times yesterday, but because it was a Sunday, I couldn’t observe what happened.

The system has been getting increasingly, but not unbearably flaky over the past 3-4 months. My symptoms include: no records being written to my Reliability Monitor files (I’m pretty sure this is an unwanted side effect from Soluto), occasional issues with the Acronis Scheduler Service (which doesn’t always start up properly after a reboot), and lately, repeated sit-downs at the machine in the morning to a login prompt (I usually leave it running all the time to do backups and updates in the wee hours of the morning). This latter condition indicates some kind of BSOD may be occurring. I’ve disabled the MSI Afterburner, which overclocks the Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 in my system, because I just updated to the latest drivers, and noticed the video driver started acting up almost immediately thereafter. Since then, no trouble at all…

But anybody who’s messed with Windows for any length of time will know what I mean when I say that these systems’ stability tends to degrade over time if, like me, you’re always installing and playing with new software (sometimes beta, sometimes not), and then de-installing much of the experimental stuff later on because it’s not worth keeping. These days, I try to restrict that sort of fooling around to VMs instead of the base OS, but I still install (and later remove) a great deal more software than is typical for a typical end user installation. If history is any guide, that means it’s time to de-gunk my Windows machine. Ordinarily, that would mean wiping the boot/system drive, performing a clean install of Windows 7, and then reinstalling all of my applications.

But now, I have to consider whether or not I should simply upgrade to Windows 8 instead. I’ve been using that OS for over a year now, and am comfortable enough to use it for production work. It’s also got some very nice features I like a lot — better security, native mounting for ISOs, the ability to snapshot a current install for the “Refresh your PC” operation, and a bunch of other stuff I’d like to use better, and more often. Maybe that means it’s time to take the plunge? I’m starting to think so, but…

…that means I need to find a full day to dedicate to making the switch. My real problem is, I have so much work to do right now I don’t know when I can find the time to perform the cut-over. But with increasing instability, my experience teaches me I’ll be doing it sooner or later anyway, just because my production system is trembling on the threshold between tolerable instability and intolerable instability. For the time being, I guess I’ll just work as hard as I can to try to free up some time in my schedule. Maybe next week? I’ve got my fingers crossed!

[Note added 3/5/2013: As I continued to ponder the “Win8 vs. Win7” decision I came across a ZDnet post from long-time OS expert Steven J. Vaughan Nichols which graphed the uptake of Windows 8 versus Windows Vista, each over the first five months since their respective introductions. Here’s the graphic he produced to present a stark and scary comparison:

Across the board, Win8 underperforms Vista!

Across the board, Win8 underperforms Vista!
Graphic reproduced from Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols ZDnet Web post entitled “5 Reasons Why Windows 8 Has Failed” with the author’s permission. Please read the original article in its entirety for a sobering (re)view of the sad and sorry state of Windows 8.

Although sales of Windows 8 may be strong, Vaughan-Nichols’ chart makes it clear that sales haven’t yet translated into an equivalent number of Windows 8 users on the Internet. This has pretty much stopped me dead in my tracks, and I’m seriously considering flip-flopping my decision, and re-installing Windows 7 instead. That said, I did upgrade to Vista and found it to be a stable and dependable OS once the marketplace remedied the initial driver incompatibility issues that drove early adopters so crazy. I’m still thinking…]

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