Aware as I am that most of my readers are still running Windows XP, I would be remiss in not keeping you up to date on the newer Windows Operating Systems. You will no doubt recall my disdain for Windows Vista from its release and many of you stayed away from that OS even to the point of buying new PCs with Win XP installed or “downgrading” from Vista back to XP. Since Windows 7 was released, I have heartily endorsed it for new PC purchases and I also recommend that anyone who had the misadventure of acquiring Vista, replace it as soon as you are able with a comparable version of Windows 7.
It is not difficult to upgrade from Vista to Win 7 and only costs about $120; less if you purchase a multi PC copy. As I have written before, I don’t recommend upgrading from XP to Win 7; it is too difficult for the average user and not worth the trouble. Keep your old XP machine as long as it runs and as long as Microsoft supports security dates for it (note if you are running Service Pack 2 you should update for free to Service Pack 3 since SP 2 support ends in July).
I would also be remiss not to urge you in the direction of proven technologies with greater usability and features. So, I do want you to start moving towards purchase of a new PC with Win 7 and in the meantime remind you to keep that old hard drive backed up, as we’ve discussed in previous columns. Your old hard drive will fail one day, sometimes with little warning and you will be left without access to your old files, pictures, videos, music and whatever.
You’ve heard some of the reasons to migrate to Win 7 from their advertising (Microsoft’s profits were up about 30% last quarter, so someone is listening) but let me add a couple of other reasons. If you’re thinking about going wireless; maybe you want the mobility and convenience of a laptop, Win 7 makes wireless networking much simpler. It’s amazing the progress that has been made from when I set up my first wireless network which included one old Win 98 PC and a couple of Win XPs.
Microsoft has also added some improved software applets to Win 7 and I’ll discuss one today. There is a much improved Calculator program built into Win 7. Sure you’ve had a free calculator in Windows way back to Win 95, but this version has got some neat features. You of course have the basic calculator and a scientific mode, but there’s also a units-of-measure converter that allows you to convert just about any measurement to whatever form you need. It’s handy to have your calculator and your conversion tools all in one place. There are even a couple of utility programs; called worksheets that can help you figure out your house mortgage and car payments. Your old friend WordPad has also been improved.
Squeeze that last bit of good out of your old Win XP and move on up with Win 7.