Make us your home page
Instagram

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 windowslive.com/desktop.

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 microsoft.com/security_essentials. 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, windows.com 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

Loading...
  1. Car bomb kills 13, injures 24 in Baghdad; Islamic State claims responsibility

    World

    BAGHDAD — A car bomb exploded outside a popular ice cream shop in central Baghdad just after midnight today, killing 13 people and wounding 24, hospital and police officials said.

  2. Leaping shark floors angler in Australia

    World

    In The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway's protagonist battles for three days to pull in his prized catch. For Terry Selwood, it came a little more suddenly.

    A 9-foot shark lies on the deck of a fishing boat at Evans Head, Australia on Sunday. Fisherman Terry Selwood said he was left with a badly bruised and bleeding right arm where the shark struck him with a fin as it landed on him on the deck. [Lance Fountain via AP]
  3. Rays rally twice to beat Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — Starting Erasmo Ramirez on Monday after he closed out Sunday's marathon win turned out, despite the Rays' best intentions and rigid insistence, to be a bad idea as he gave up four runs without getting through three innings.

    Erasmo Ramirez, starting a day after closing a 15-inning marathon, struggles against the Rangers and comes out after throwing 43 pitches in 21/3 innings.
  4. Britain investigating missed signals over Manchester bomber

    World

    LONDON — Britain's domestic intelligence agency, MI5, is investigating its response to warnings from the public about the threat posed by Salman Abedi, the suicide bomber who killed 22 people and wounded dozens more in an attack at a crowded Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, last week.

    People gather Monday at St. Ann’s Square in Manchester, England, to view tributes to victims of the suicide bombing that killed 22 on May 22 as a concert by Ariana Grande was concluding.
  5. Trump condemns killing of pair who tried to stop racist rant

    Nation

    The mayor of Portland, Ore., on Monday urged U.S. officials and organizers to cancel a "Trump Free Speech Rally" and other similar events, saying they are inappropriate and could be dangerous after two men were stabbed to death on a train as they tried to help a pair of young women targeted by an anti-Muslim tirade.

    Coco Douglas, 8, leaves a handmade sign and rocks she painted at a memorial in Portland, Ore., on Saturday for two bystanders who were stabbed to death Friday while trying to stop a man who was yelling anti-Muslim slurs and acting aggressively toward two young women. From left are Coco's brother, Desmond Douglas; her father, Christopher Douglas; and her stepmother, Angel Sauls. [Associated Press]