Upgrade to Windows 7? It all depends...

Windows 7

With Windows 7 scheduled for release Oct. 22, the question many readers will be asking is, "Should I upgrade?" The answer depends on your circumstances.

If you're frustrated with Windows Vista because it crashes or is slow, you should definitely upgrade to Windows 7. I've been using a preview copy of Windows 7, and I prefer it to Vista because it's more stable and faster.

In a review of Windows 7 prior to its release, the technical Web site ZDNet.com said that "subjectively, the change from Vista to Windows 7 is like releasing a car's handbrake." For details, see blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=22006.

If Vista is working for you, you don't need to upgrade. The Windows 7 user experience won't be that much different because the improvements are largely "under the hood," such as more efficient use of memory, which causes a PC to start up faster and use fewer of the PC's resources while it runs.

If you've got a PC that's more than three years old and runs Windows XP, you may not want to upgrade. ZDNet.com said that while Windows 7 was faster than , XP "remains more capable for devices with limited memory and outdated graphics."

You can find system requirements for Windows 7 at www.microsoft.com/windows/wind … em-requirements.aspx, and upgrade advice at www.microsoft.com/windows/wind … upgrade-advisor.aspx .

Are there any new PCs that can't run Windows 7? Microsoft says no. ZDNet says the only new PCs that aren't suitable are netbooks (downsized laptops) that use the least-capable Intel Atom processor. Note: The optional XP Mode for Windows 7, which can be downloaded for free, has a special requirement: chips that include Intel "virtualization technology" or AMD-V processor chips.


Question: I have Windows Vista on a (32-bit version) and a (64-bit version), and both PCs have 4 gigabytes of RAM. If I upgrade to Windows 7, would it make sense to install the 64-bit version on both PCs? Will I need to reload programs or data after the upgrade?

Answer: The chief advantage of the 64-bit version of Windows 7 is that it can use more than 4 gigabytes of RAM (useful if you add RAM later); 32-bit Windows 7 can't do it.

You can install 64-bit Windows 7 on both PCs, but not easily. Back up your data first.

Your 64-bit Vista laptop will upgrade smoothly to 64-bit Windows 7. Most programs should make the transfer (firewalls may not.)

Your 32-bit Vista desktop is too dissimilar from 64-bit for an upgrade. It needs a "clean install" that wipes out everything.

(c) 2009, Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
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User comments

Oct 09, 2009
So... W7 is -still- a single-shell OS? If so, I won't need it.

Oct 09, 2009
Does anybody have a scoop about Windows 8?

Oct 09, 2009
I have Windows 7 64 bit version. It's ok but I had to alter a scanner driver manualy with the aid of an obscure post from a guru on the Web. Also, if you want to use Adobe Flash, you have to use the 32 bit version of ie, not the 64 bit version. Surprisingly, Adobe isn't ready for 64 bit prime time. I really wish I could get excited about Windows 7. I'm not there yet. Because I have a dual boot setup, I can use XP. I still spend most of my time in that comfort zone.

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