Allow me a different view:
First, I am instantly suspicious of anyone who claims they have the ONLY truth - there’s hardly ever one truth on anything…
Second, there seems to be a flaw in the argument above: if Microsoft is really so greedy and un-trustworthy and their operating systems are a vulnerable bunch of crap, why should one single sub-version (8.1) suddenly be exempt from that?
@BrionBell: I definitely respect your experience and value your input, so if a specific laptop with Win 8.1 runs well for you, then that’s great - I just wouldn’t generalize this (what’s the sample size behind it?).
Re secure systems: as one of those “corporate clients who push their crap into Windows” I was responsible for a user base of about 100.000 clients - would I really have had an interest in working with a supplier who “doesn’t give a rat’s ass how your computer holds up against […]threats”? H*** no! System security was a constant topic in any discussion with any vendor, be it Microsoft or Sun Microsystems or Oracle - you can be sure that the pressure is on all these vendors to deliver systems that are secure - and constantly keep them secure by delivering updates.
Any security expert worth their salt will tell you that installing OS security updates is one of the key prerequisites to having a secure IT estate.
I generally follow a more pragmatic approach for my music hardware: I claim that any PC / laptop with a current OS (including up-to-date security patching) should be able to run a reasonable live music installation, provided a little care is taken and effort invested:
- Using the pointers in @brad’s “glitch free” eBook
- Waiting with version updates until the first teething problems have been ironed out
- Not overloading your system with all kinds of tools and utilities
- Making sure that other software (office, communications etc.) doesn’t interfere with music operations
And of course the key ingredient: keep the load of the music ops on your system reasonable! A system that is at the limits of its processing / RAM capacity will be de-stabilized by every little unforeseen event - leave enough computational headroom so that the system can cope with little niggles.
Yes, you can probably fine-tune any machine with a specific OS version, driver version, deactivating specific services, components, etc to deliver about 20% more than my “middle-of-the-road” installation, but I’m happy with what I can get out of today’s systems (TBH I find it pretty amazing!) - and Moore’s law keeps pushing the capabilities forward.
Just my 0.02 EUR - and I’m at 39 years of similar experience to the above…