December 2009


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Windows 7: Should you make the switch?

7:52 AM Thu, Oct 22, 2009 |
Posted by: Walt Zwirko

 Windows 7 — Microsoft’s seventh incarnation of its market-leading computer operating system — is now available, and like each previous version of Windows, it is more evolutionary than revolutionary.

So if you’re part of the 92 percent of computer users whose PC is powered by Windows, should you make the switch?

First, let me say that I’ve not yet had a chance to use Windows 7. I tried installing a pre-release version on an ailing Vista-based PC, but the installation didn’t work.

Everything I’ve read in credible technical publications would seem to indicate that Windows 7 is a worthy upgrade because it addresses some shortcomings of Windows Vista and it is designed to operate smoothly on a wider variety of hardware.

If you’re buying a new Windows PC, chances are you won’t even have a choice; it will come with Windows 7 installed.

If you’ve purchased a new computer in the last few months, there’s a good possibility that the manufacturer has included an offer to get a free or low-cost copy of Windows 7 for you to install yourself. If this is the case, I suggest that you take advantage of the deal, but hold off on installation for a few months in case there are any major problems that have to be fixed after the software is widely deployed.

When you get the upgrade from the manufacturer of your computer, you can have some assurance that it has been tested on your specific computer configuration, and that it comes equipped with any necessary software and hardware “drivers” needed for everything to work smoothly. You also may qualify for free technical support in case you run into problems.

But what if you have an existing PC and want to upgrade to Windows 7? Microsoft has developed an upgrade advisor tool that will evaluate your hardware and software and make a suggestion.

Generally speaking, the older your computer, the less likely it is to be a Windows 7 candidate, although Win 7 is designed so that some of its more advanced functions can be dialed down to accommodate PCs with slower processors and less memory.

Almost any computer running Vista should be a safe bet, because Windows 7 is derived from Vista. If you have Windows XP on your computer, it’s a trickier situation because — even if your machine has the necessary horsepower — you can’t perform an “upgrade.” You are limited to a “clean install,” which means you’ll have to reinstall all existing software after Windows 7 launches (do you know where all those disks are now?). Not an appetizing proposition for most users.

There is one other thing to consider if you’re tempted to upgrade to Windows 7: Which version to get?

Should it be Home Premium ($120), Professional ($200) or Ultimate ($220)?

Microsoft’s handy chart outlines the options. Home Premium, as the name suggests, should be satisfactory for most families. Professional includes some networking options suitable for business users, and Ultimate incorporates data security functions and multiple language capabilities.

My recommendation for everyone is really just common sense: If your computer is working well for you, there is no compelling reason to switch to Windows 7 immediately.

If you have an older computer that has is hovering around the minimum specifications for Windows 7, you might consider applying the cash you would invest in the operating system toward a new PC with Win 7 built-in. You might be surprised at how much computer you can get for $400 or less, especially if you already have a suitable monitor.

My work computers continue to run Windows XP, but I just purchased a new home computer that came with a Windows 7 upgrade option. I’ll be using this to evaluate the installation and operation of Microsoft’s new operating system in the weeks and months ahead.

Watch this space.



I am unsure how you can write about an OS you have not used? If you were unable to install the RC did you try the latest release? Why the devil would you put information about your failure to install a beta copy of software in this story? Beta copies of software are NOT the same as full release aka RTM copies. I’ve been testing out the full release version for a few months now and I have had 0 issues on two different laptops. One built for XP and one for Vista. The stability, usability, and reliability have been wonderful. Also finally integrating a more user friendly taskbar is worth the upgrade alone.

It is unprofessional and illogical to review a beta copy and apply your results in a manner that may lead novice computer users to believe there is a correlation between your failure and the RTM version that is being released today. Go get a full version, install it, use it, then come back and fix your article because it is not the complete story.

I haven’t seen it yet either but one of my instructors at college had it and she said it operated flawlessly, which is not the experience I’ve had with XP. All in all, it sounds good and I plan to purchase a new computer this year anyway.

Exactly my point as well Ryker!! How do you write this column on your opinion and you haven’t even used Windows 7 yet??? I’ve been using Windows 7 for the past month or so and I have to say it’s by far the best OS from Windows i’ve ever had

I fail to see the alleged un-professionalism. Mr. Zwirko mentioned he had problems installing a beta, period. Nowhere in this article does he even begin to review W7, he simply states that other credible sources have given positive reviews. He then goes into a pro/con discussion of upgrading, which made some good points. This article was not intended to be a review of W7, and I never took it for one.

It seems that one needs to read the article in its entirety, before offering a review.

I tried the RC version of 7 on an older desktop running XP and as Walt said it required a clean install. The PC has good power with an Athlon 64 and 4 gig RAM. I installed a second hard drive for the clean install. Once installed I was able to draw some comparisons between XP and 7. 7 loads much faster than XP. It has a clean look to it. There were only 2 issues I experienced. The computer would sometimes just spontaneously reboot. I attributed this to the beta version and I hope it goes away with the final offering. The other problem was the Internet Explorer 8 that installed automatically. There are some compatibility issues with many mainstream websites and Explorer 8 but I’ve noticed the same issues on my laptop running Vista so I don’t believe this is a Windows 7 issue. I’ve ordered 7 and plan on installing on both my laptop and desktop.

I find the article and all the comments useful. Some users always need the latest equipment and software available. Others, like me, just want to know whether we actually need to make an upgrade, or if we are considering an upgrade, what software package pros and cons we should consider. The diversity of these comments is probably valuable for most people.

I just want to point out aside from not testing the machine, while ‘reviewing it’. I have been running Windows 7 on an older Dual Core Athlon PC, An Acer Aspire One (netbook), and my Core i7 Desktop. All of them work great, although the netbook is a little slow with only 1GB of ram.

One thing you mentioned is that if XP is working, don’t bother changing. One of the issues w/ XP is the security model for XP. Vista went a little overboard, while I think windows 7 is the right balance. Telling the average joe to stay on XP is just inviting a virus / malware, especially if they use some sites like Facebook. Windows 7 blocked facebook from trying to install a setup.exe posed to look like a flash upgrade. My friend with XP was not so lucky as it ended up installing without giving a warning.

If I was a technology/computer reporter, I would have been using windows 7 for as long as possible so I could write a good review, rather than just making some comments on others reviews. You did not even touch on the fact that the start menu is drastically changed, there is no quicklaunch (its incorporated into pinning applications to the start bar), and the minimize to desktop is now to the right of the clock.

I have old PC’s that run XP. They are too old for Win 7. I’ll get Win 7 when I can no longer run programs on these old PC’s.

There’s no true “upgrade”, but check out the Windows Easy Tranfer tool! It’s built into Vista by default (ProgramsAccessoriesSystem Tools), and availble for XP as a free download.

With the easy wizard I was able to create the file on an external drive (connected via a USB cable) and then installed Win7. Once Win7 installed, I simply ran through the tool again to import the file from the external drive. All of my accounts, data, and settings were right where I had left them.

There’s no true “upgrade”, but check out the Windows Easy Tranfer tool! It’s built into Vista by default (ProgramsAccessoriesSystem Tools), and availble for XP as a free download.

With the easy wizard I was able to create the file on an external drive (connected via a USB cable) and then installed Win7. Once Win7 installed, I simply ran through the tool again to import the file from the external drive. All of my accounts, data, and settings were right where I had left them.

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i just want to say to anyone who says a windows operating system runs flawlessly “Really that is amazing it has never happened before and oh yeah did you actually turn the computer on?” HaHa but really i still think microsoft should give this version away, with no i am soryy for vista just hey we want more of your money proves microsoft still does not care what customers want or suffer through, this version may or may not be fine but microsoft is not.

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