Should you get Windows 7?

I’m frequently asked by friends, relatives and clients “should I get Windows 7?”. It’s a good question, although somewhat irrelevant if you plan on buying a new computer.  You will be hard pressed to find a new computer now that doesn’t come with Windows 7 pre installed. Well… unless you shop at the Apple store.

The answer depends on  wether you plan on buying a new computer with Windows 7 already installed, or if you plan on upgrading your current computer to 7.

For new computer buyers, the only reason to avoid Windows 7 on a new computer is if you have some unique (read: old) program that doesn’t work on Windows 7, or some other unique piece of hardware that doesn’t work on 7. That said, even if a program or device doesn’t support Windows 7 “we have ways of making it work”.

For people thinking of upgrading their existing computer the answer is probably “don’t bother”. Here’s why. If your computer is running Windows XP we can make some generalizations about it. We know it’s probably at least four years old, maybe even 10 years old. You will be better served by investing that same money on a whole new computer rather than into an older computer that may be on borrowed time. $200 to upgrade Windows… or $400 for a faster new computer that already has Windows 7?  That shouldn’t be a hard question.

That leaves people who have computers running Windows Vista who might want to install Windows 7. The answer is the same, “don’t bother”, but for different reasons. Under the hood, there is very little difference between Vista and 7. You’re not going to see much difference either. What most people don’t realize, and what the people at Microsoft don’t like to talk about much, is that Windows 7 is about 90% based on Vista code! That’s because despite Vista’s teething problems it really was based on sound ideas and sound practices. In fact the majority of “problems” with Windows Vista were with the other software and hardware makers failing to make Vista ready products, not with Vista itself. The very same thing happened back in 2001 when Windows XP came out. I worked at Microsoft at the time and you wouldn’t believe how much grief we got about it. But XP and the rest of the computer world matured, and now XP is generaly revered as the old workhorse of the PC world. Vista would be too if it had been given 5-6 years to stew like XP was. However that won’t happen with Windows 7 on the scene.

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