If you drive carefully, then a high-quality set of all-season tires can get you through the winter in areas that receive a moderate amount of snow. However, they'll never be as good as equipping your vehicle with four winter tires. Don't be a cheapskate and only put cold-weather rubber on your vehicle's front axle, though. To find out why this is a very bad idea, check out this new video from Tyre Reviews.
Only having winter tires on a single axle creates a grip imbalance between the vehicle's two ends. This doesn't cause a problem when traveling straight forward but creates serious problems when cornering. Even at low speeds, the car can snap into a spin, and there's not much a driver can do to recover from the slide.
This issue actually looks like a fun way to spend a day at a Goodyear's cold-weather tire test facility but would be incredibly dangerous on the road. Other drivers would be dealing with the adverse conditions, too, and they might not be able to react in time to avoid your sliding vehicle.
Winter tires are an investment, but they provide a significant traction advantage in icy conditions. Generally, a set will last multiple seasons, so you won't have to spend this money every year.
As proof of winter tires capabilities, Tyre Reviews previously did a snowy weather test comparing a front-wheel-drive vehicle with them against an otherwise identical all-wheel-drive model running on summer rubber. The results were conclusive, and the snow tires took an easy victory by being able to brake, accelerate, and corner better, despite having two less driven wheels.
Source: Tyre Reviews via YouTube