Windows 8 and Android Jelly Bean: To wait or not to wait?

New operating systems look to complete our transition to a touch-screen world, but are we patient enough to wait? It's especially tricky if you're in need of both a new phone and laptop.

Oh Windows 8, will you be worth the wait? Microsoft

Windows 8 is hoping to merge tablet touch screens into our desktops, laptops and whatever hybrid devices we might be using a year from now. Meanwhile, Google is allegedly already at work on Android 5.0 Jelly Bean and is looking to further integrate its mobile OS with Windows 8. It's a lot to look forward to, but where does that leave us for the rest of 2012?

In my case, my old Windows laptop is on its last legs--as is my much-abused Android phone. It's time to buy new hardware, but unfortunately we're stuck in an awkward in-between time for both operating systems and hardware.

Last month at CES in Las Vegas, I had a chance to play with the perhaps too cleverly named Yoga from Lenovo --it's a laptop with a keyboard and touch screen. The keyboard folds all the way around nearly 360 degrees to transform into a de facto tablet.

With the Yoga in my hand, a single thought repeated itself in my head--so, this is what Windows 8 is meant for!

Lenovo had product people from China, the U.S., and other parts of the world on hand, but no matter how much I hounded them, they all remained cagey about when (if ever) the Yoga might actually show up on American retail shelves. One Lenovo exec made the point that the company would be sure to make the Yoga compatible with Windows 7, but the concept is clearly designed with the new touch-friendly OS in mind.

Now, a month later, my old HP laptop is maxed out on RAM but still struggling under the demands of personal computing in 2012--simultaneously running 30 Chrome tabs, a dozen more on Firefox, Skype, Spotify, Power Point, Word, Evernote, and about a dozen other things in the background--not to mention that the chassis is literally cracking open at the seams. And I'm in the same spot as Lenovo with its Yoga. I'd love to pull the trigger on my next big system, but I find myself waiting for Microsoft to make the next move.

I could buy an Ultrabook or some other nice little notebook system without touch screen capability right now, but I'd almost surely regret it within months if the Yoga or another sweet little Windows 8-ready system dropped, leaving me with tech that's only two months old but already from another era.

Same goes for my Android smartphone, which I've dropped in the shower one too many times--feel free to direct your mockery to @ericcmack or in the comments, I deserve it. I'm due for a phone upgrade in April, which looks to be just a month or two shy of when the rumor mill tells us to expect a new version of Android. Early indications are that Jelly Bean will be aimed at tablets, but after waiting months just to get upgraded to Gingerbread on my last phone, I don't want to risk missing the boat on some sweet new OS, especially since it's rumored to integrate with--what else--Windows 8.

You could argue that no matter what or when I purchase, it will inevitably be obsolete in the blink of an eye. But I seem to be coming into the market for new hardware at a particularly inconvenient time for someone who likes to be an early adopter. First world problems, indeed.

Inevitably, I'm going to have to pull the trigger on the new hardware soon. I can't wait for Redmond and Mountain View forever (that's three months in gadget time). Maybe 2012 will finally be the year I dedicate to becoming more proficient in OS X or Linux.

 

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