EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF ARTICLE POSTED AT AICPA.ORG Windows 8 features a touchscreen-enabled user interface designed to provide a uniform experience on desktop computers, laptops, Ultrabooks, tablets, and smartphones. Microsoft’s goal is that users who learn Windows 8 on one platform will know how to use the operating system on all their computing devices. Windows 8 accommodates both touchscreen functionality and control by a keyboard and mouse. Windows 8 users can toggle between two Start screens—a classic desktop and a new “Modern UI” characterized by blocks of colorful tiles designed to optimize touchscreen interaction. Applications that work on Windows 7 should continue to work on Windows 8. The advantages of Windows 8 include faster boot-up times, longer battery life, at least one significant security upgrade, and cloud-based live syncing, which means that a change made on one of a user’s Windows 8 devices automatically updates on all of them. The drawbacks of Windows 8 include the amount of time required to fine-tune the settings in the upgrade installation, the learning curve associated with a new menu structure and Start screen, and the uncertainty of switching to a new and largely unproven user interface. CPAs considering whether to upgrade or switch to Windows 8 should consider several factors, including which version of Windows they currently use and how mobile devices and cloud computing fit into their technology-utilization strategy. CPAs, especially those running Windows 7, might be well-advised to take a wait-and-see approach with Windows 8, at least until the system has been in use long enough for its performance to be thoroughly assessed. CPAs should see how Windows 8 fares on all platforms—from desktop computers to the new Windows Phone 8.
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