By Rieva Lesonsky

Upgrading to a new operating system is a big commitment for small businesses, especially when there’s been such a major overhaul—as is the case with Windows 8. But upgrading to Windows 8 will help you run a better business. Here are five reasons why you should upgrade.

1—Built-in Anti-Virus
Windows 8 has two security software tools built into the operating system. First is Windows Defender, which runs in the background and checks apps and other unfamiliar software against a Microsoft database to make sure it’s safe. If Windows Defender gives it the green light, you won’t even know it’s there. And of course, you can always check manually if you’re unsure about something.

The second tool, Windows SmartScreen, protects against new malware that hasn’t been detected by anti-virus software yet. Windows SmartScreen works by checking information about a downloaded app’s reputation to see (and then warn you) if it might be malicious.

2—Microsoft Account
By merely typing in your e-mail address and password, you can log in to any computer running Windows 8 and access your settings, contacts, preferences, and Microsoft apps associated with your account. This magic happens through cloud syncing. So all your settings, such as themes, language preferences, browser favorites and history, and content for Microsoft apps and services, are instantly ready to use, even if your computer is nowhere in sight. You can also to access and share your documents, photos and other files.

If you’re using a touch device, such as Dell’s XPS 12 Convertible Touch Ultrabook or Dell’s XPS 10 tablet you’ll love the new touch interface. (I was “playing” with these devices at Dell World 2012, and I quickly became obsessed with the devices and the touch capability.) Touch makes it easier to navigate and manipulate objects on your screen in comparison to using a mouse or keystrokes. And with Windows 8, you get a global view of everything on your screen, and with the mere swipe of your finger you can go easily go back and forth to the items you’re looking for. You can also pinch and zoom items or with a swipe from the right side of the screen get to your Start screen where you have your favorite tools and apps “locked in”.

We’ve all heard it before, time is money. Well, Windows 8 starts up faster, switches between apps faster, and uses power more efficiently than Windows 7. When you want to get out of the office, it shuts down faster too. You’ll appreciate the overall performance for other activities as well, such as video rendering and moving files, especially if you “package” your Windows 8 upgrade with a new PC like Dell’s OptiPlex 9010 All-in-One Touch. Of course, the PC supplies its own performance boost as well.

5—Windows Pro
Not all Windows 8 upgrades are the same. If you choose Windows 8 Pro, you also get enhanced data protection through BitLocker technology, which provides full disk encryption, and allows you to back up the encryption to a SkyDrive account.

Windows 8 Pro also enables you to connect to your PC remotely with Remote Desktop Connection. That means while on the road or from your home office, you can access your office desktop from another computer, as if you were sitting in your comfy office chair.

Lastly, a feature called Domain Join connects Windows 8 Pro devices, such as Dell’s XPS 10 tablet to your business network to make it easy to manage that device. A feature called Group Policy makes it simple to implement IT policies, manage user access, and enforce password rules, so you can keep all your employees’ computers safe and secure.

This is a paid post in conjunction with IDG and Dell.