Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Q&A: Is Windows 7 right for you?

A computer store employee carries promotional signage for Microsoft’s Windows 7 ahead of its official launch today.

Getty Images

A computer store employee carries promotional signage for Microsoft’s Windows 7 ahead of its official launch today.

After lots of hype and repeated saccharin-sweet TV commercials, Microsoft's new operating system, Windows 7, finally arrives this week.

The release today raises the question, "Should I buy Windows 7?" Here's a guide to help you make that decision:

Is Windows 7 a giant step away from Vista?

No, it's not. In fact, "under the hood," Windows 7 is Vista, but it's tweaked in almost every way to be faster and better than Vista. Some disparagingly call it "Vista done right."

What version of Windows 7 should I buy?

Most home users have Vista Home Premium and will want Windows 7 Home Premium. The upgrade price is $120. You can upgrade from Vista Home Premium to any higher version of Windows 7.

Will Windows 7 run on my old computer?

Probably. For the first time, Microsoft has brought out an operating system that requires less computing power than its predecessor. Windows 7 will even run on a netbook.

What if I have XP?

To move from Windows XP, you must do what Microsoft calls a "migration." XP owners can buy the cheaper $120 upgrade package (the full install package is $200), but migration is a bit more complicated than an in-place upgrade from Vista.

You must use a utility called Windows Easy Transfer to copy the settings, documents and data. Then you install over top of XP. The biggest disadvantage is that your installed applications cannot be saved, so be sure you have your install discs ready to reinstall any programs you had on your computer.

What is in Vista that is missing from Windows 7?

Quite a bit. In a tradeoff for increased speed and smaller size, Windows 7 has unbundled some programs. Examples are Live Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Live Messenger and Movie Maker. The good news is that these and more applications can be downloaded free as Windows Live Essentials at

Also, features that remain in Windows 7 have been upgraded. Internet Explorer is Version 8 (available for several months as a free-standing download) and Media Center is Version 12. Many other included features have been polished.

What about security?

Windows Vista was a leap forward in security over XP. Windows 7 has built on that. And Internet Explorer 8 is more secure than its predecessors. Also, Windows has just brought out a new free antivirus program called Security Essentials, which you can get at It is getting good reviews, and with Windows' free spyware program, Windows Defender, and the built-in Windows firewall, you should be pretty buttoned up.

However if you do thoughtless surfing to dangerous Internet sites, you still could have problems.

Will my software and hardware work with Windows 7?

Yes. Because Windows 7 is Vista under the hood, any piece of hardware or software that runs with Windows Vista Service Pack 2 should run with 7. If you want to be sure, has a compatibility tool.

What is new in Windows 7?

There are new features including a redesigned task bar, new ways to share data on a home network, better power management for mobile devices and enhanced support for touch-screen computers.

So, should I upgrade?

If you are using Vista and it annoys you — upgrade. It will be a better experience.

If you are using XP and are pleased, sit tight. But know that XP is 8 years old and two versions behind now and with Windows 7 replacing Windows XP on netbooks, Microsoft won't support it much longer.

In fact, if your machine is old enough to be running XP, you might want to think about a new computer with Windows 7 installed.

Q&A: Is Windows 7 right for you? 10/21/09 [Last modified: Thursday, October 22, 2009 10:52am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Staff Writer.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Irma slows curbside trash service in Pasco


    Hurricane Irma brought a hiccup to twice-weekly curbside trash service in Pasco County.

Pasco officials are asking for patience about the slow pace of residential trash service from private haulers. In some areas, trash hasn't been collected since Friday, Sept. 8, because of the volume of waste left after Hurricane Irma.
  2. Clemson reunion for Bucs' Adam Humphries, Vikings' Mackensie Alexander


    Bucs receiver Adam Humphries will have a familiar face lining up against him Sunday when he's in the slot and the Vikings have Mackensie Alexander guarding him as their nickel defensive back.

    Bucs wide receiver Adam Humphries (10) makes a reception before being tackled by Chicago Bears defensive back Marcus Cooper (31) Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  3. Tampa ranks behind Miami and Orlando in Most Fun Cities in America list


    Is Tampa really among the "most fun cities in America?"

    Tampa's large number of festivals was among the factors that earned it a high ranking.
  4. Vinoy seeks to educate voters before November referendum


     The high profile match between Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker has cast a long shadow over other candidates and issues on the St. Petersburg residents' Nov. 7 ballot.

    The Vinoy is seeking voter approval to build a one-story parking garage behind the resort
  5. Backstreet Boys' Nick Carter thanks his former dance instructor from Tampa in touching tribute (w/ video)


    TAMPA -- Backstreet Boys’ Nick Carter appeared at a meeting of the Hillsborough County commission on Wednesday.

    Tell me why.

    During a Hillsborough County Commission meeting, Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys appeared via video to thanks local dance instructor Sandy Karl, who retired after 45 years in the business.