So Help a Guy Pick – Windows 7 vs. Windows 8?

windows 7 or 8I’m hoping that between this blog, Google+, and Twitter, the hive mind can help me choose between Windows 7 and Windows 8 for my Retina MacBook Pro. I’m probably running the risk of starting a debate about the virtues of Windows vs. Mac, or the folly of using Windows to game on a Mac, but damn the torpedoes.




I have two options when it comes to getting Windows on the MacBook Pro:

1) Deactivate a retail copy of Windows 7 that is on my iMac, and transfer it to my Retina MacBook Pro. The license for the retail copy permits this. Cost: Free

2) Leave Windows 7 on the iMac, and buy Windows 8 for the MacBook Pro. A Windows 8 System Builder disc/license costs $90 on Amazon, and unlike Windows 7, the Windows 8 System Builder license allows you to transfer it to new machines in the future. Cost: $90 (plus $79.99 if I decide to run Windows 8 in Parralels).

Option that I’ve probably ruled out: Buy a new copy of Windows 7. Windows 7 is actually more expensive than Windows 8, so if I’m going to go the Windows 7 route, I’d just use my current license.



  • Because I have a toddler in the house, I hardly make it down into the basement to use that iMac. Removing Windows 7 from it wouldn’t be that big of a deal, except for the three or four times a year I actually get down there to game. I do have more opportunities to game on my Retina MacBook Pro.
  • Cheaper (i.e., free)
  • Windows 8 has gotten many poor reviews (and I wrote before about what a flop it has been, sales-wise).
  • I’ll be using a Mac, so Windows 8’s touchscreen features are moot.
  • I’m familiar with Windows 7, as I use it at work and have used it on past Windows machines.
  • No clue how Windows 8 is for gaming. I know that Windows 7 was rock solid on past machines. Most of the games I’ll play will be pretty old games via, but I’ll also dive into Skyrim and the Mass Effect series.



  • It would require some work to backup everything from the Windows 7 partition on my iMac, and move it over to the MacBook.
  • I’m intrigued with the thought of trying out a new operating system. It could be fun messing around with Windows 8, and also would help me keep my geek cred relevant. Frankly, this might outweigh everything.
  • Even though I don’t use my iMac much at all, that could change as my daughter gets older. It might be nice to still have Windows installed on it, if I don’t move Windows 7 to the MacBook.
  • Much less work. I can leave the iMac alone, and start Windows from scratch on the MacBook.
  • Despite many poor reviews, there are people who seem to love Windows 8.

So, is there anyone out there with opinons on this? What are your thoughts on Windows 8?

Evan Kline

Hello, I'm Evan. I write about tech from my perspective – that of the average 40-something tech geek. You can also find me on Twitter and at my real-life job as a lawyer.    MORE ABOUT ME.


  1. Let me offer you my opinion on the subject. Lets first of all limit ourselves to talking only about the home user not the business user. With that limitation in mind you are left with this abbreviated history of Microsoft Windows Versions Skipping over the 3.x and below versions:

    Windows 95 (Revolutionary change from 3.x. It was overall very good.)

    Windows 98 (More of a Windows 95 v2.0 than anything, equally as good.)

    Windows ME (Millennium… A rush rush mashed together piece of software more designed to ease the transition into the next generation of windows OSes. It was worthless.)

    Windows XP (Revolutionary again. Huge stability and security improvement over the 9x lineup.)

    Windows Vista (Garbage 2.0. It introduced many new features that where improved upon in the next Generation but where simply not ready for production at this time.)

    Windows 7 (Revolutionary 3.0 I personally recommend despite it’s aging nature.)

    Windows 8 (Garbage 3.0. Admittedly many improvements over Windows 7 in terms of security and speed, but shackled to a step backwards of a user interface which tried and failed to dumb down the PC to the level of a mobile device.)

    Again this is simply my educated opinion, Windows 8 is the next “miss” in Window’s Hit and Miss release pattern. Skip it and go for whatever 9 is going to be called.

    • Thanks for the detailed look, Michael. I think that is a good look at the releases (with the caveat that opinions will probably differ among users). I’ve owned every version of Windows since 3.1, except for ME and now 8. I wasn’t a huge fan of Vista, although I don’t think it was as bad as some felt. I think 7 almost was like Vista, but polished and streamlined.

      • In your use case, this is largely about opinion. Unless your an power user (as I am) or a hard core gamer (the new UI gets in the way a lot) the differences between 7 and 8 are largely superficial. Since you have a license for 7 already that would probably be your best option.

        I’ll refrain from talking down on your hardware choices but being able to run in parallels certainly wouldn’t be a selling point for me. I’ve personally tried many attempts at dual OSes, dual booting on the same PC or two PCs running one OS each and honestly I tend to gravitate towards and use one more than the other.

      • For me, the Windows side will be used almost exclusively for gaming. I switched to Macs about 2-3 years ago, and you’re right – I would gravitate toward that one more than the Windows side.

  2. I’ve been using Windows 8 the last several months for my college and gaming laptop, and over all I’ve been pretty satisfied with it compared to my previous Windows 7 computer. I’m not a huge fan of the Start screen (though I can see it working better for a tablet), but in reality you really don’t have to deal with it if you don’t want to- either download a program to makes you boot directly to the desktop, to click the desktop icon immediately. In my experience, its intrusiveness has been somewhat overstated. As for stability when it comes to games, it’s on par with Windows 7- there has only been a couple times when I’ve had issues getting a program to run on Windows 8, and it was never something that I had already successfully run on Windows 7 before (for reference, I’ve gotten Skyrim and a couple games from GOG to work with no issues).

    A big thing to keep in mind is that Windows 8.1 is coming out in the near future, and supposedly it addresses a few of the common complaints with the Start screen and UI. It doesn’t sound like it fixes everything people dislike about it, but it might be worth taking into consideration if that’s something weighing heavily on your decision.

    Overall, there is definitely some practical reason to stick with 7. Definitely cheaper in the short run. Still, I don’t think the transition to 8 would be nearly as bad for you as some of the reviews would indicate, and you probably would like the general improvement to stability and performance, plus the handful of other small new features compared to 7. Michael’s comparison of 8 to Vista and ME is valid, though from what I’ve heard and remember of those two, 8 is not nearly as bad of a misstep.

  3. Off-subject…. ish; I am using bootcamp too (I chose windows 7 BTW, but have not yet been able to complete the install) on my MacPro for beloved Windows software and a few other knick knacks. Haven’t been able to complete the install it gets “kinked” up asking for boot-disk. Did your install go smoothly, and do you have any quick tips or links to provide to assist with the partitioning exercise.

    • The problem I’m running into now on my MacBook Pro is that I need one USB port for my USB thumb drive and two for my external DVD drive. That’s one more than the machine has. I have to wait until I scrounge up a USB hub.

    • I think I have things installing now. I made an ISO of the Windows 8 install disc using Imgburn on a Windows machine, and copied that to a USB thumb drive. In that first screen that comes up then on the Mac, I eventually got it to work by just going through one piece at a time. I forget which order i used, but the last step I took was the “install windows” step. It is in the middle of installation now.

  4. I tried Windows 8 on a new laptop for 3 weeks. Then, I went through the work of putting Windows 7 on it. Why? Well …

    1) No touchscreen on the laptop. The Metro UI is designed for a touchscreen. Without it, the OS felt clumsy and awkward.

    2) No start menu in desktop mode. This one actually depressed me because I’ve always been a start menu hater. While I thought nothing could be worse, Microsoft proved me wrong. The lack of a start menu meant having to use the Metro UI start screen. Swipe, swipe, swipe (with a mouse, though) to get to anything. I did finally figure out how to set things up more efficiently but it still required a bunch of maintenance every time something new was installed.

    3) Metro UI apps are like phone apps … But on a desktop. They’re simple and basic … But on my desktop. They were novel at first but had no staying power. I was in desktop mode all the time anyway.

    Essentially, I just found windows 7 to be a much more efficient environment.

    • I did end up going with Windows 8, more out of curiosity, and share many of your complaints. I’m not so sure about Microsoft’s vision of a common UI across all platforms. There are just major inherent differences between mobile and desktop that require different interfaces. I’m going to stick with it for a while, but if the start menu makes a comeback in 8.1, I could see myself never using the Metro/Modern interface.

  5. I think it’s always a great idea to try something new :) you’ll be able to compare the old and the new to make the ultimate decision yourself.

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