My 10/18/09 Missoulian column
Microsoft’s Windows 7 arrives this next week, and there are many indications that Microsoft hopes it will help people forget Windows Vista, the current and problematic version of the company’s operating system.
Vista is less than 3 years old and was planned as a must have replacement for XP, which was first introduced in 2001 and is still by far the dominant version of Windows being used today.
But the mass move to Vista didn’t happen, because according to many users, Vista was slow and required a lot of new hardware. Many people stayed with XP simply because XP worked well on their PCs.
And people stayed with XP because Microsoft gave people good reasons to stay by extending XP support and security patches (the latest extension is to 2014).
Now, Microsoft is hoping Windows 7 gives users a good reason to move on from both XP and Vista.
But reviews are already trickling in (Windows 7 has been available to some business users since summer), and a significant number say don’t bother to upgrade from XP. Upgrade from Vista, but not XP.
For XP, the upgrade involves much more work: you must backup your entire hard drive and completely erase it in order to install Windows 7. Then you must reinstall everything else you use, including all programs and personal files.
For example, if you use Microsoft Office, then you need to reinstall Office from your original CDs, and then install all of the service pack updates and other critical fixes, too.
And some programs you now use with XP might not work with Windows 7, or may not be updated right away to work. You can check Microsoft’s Windows 7 Compatibility Center.
The upgrade from Vista is easier; you don’t have to erase your hard drive. But the upgrade isn’t free, even though Vista is only a few years old.
I say that if you have XP and think you’ll buy a new PC in the next year, then wait to get it with Windows 7. If you currently run Vista, think about upgrading, because you have the necessary hardware and you can get rid of Vista. Check the compatibility center for the programs you use most.
If you want to upgrade from XP yourself, check All Things Digital’s upgrade guide.