Tip & How-To about Computers & Internet

Jumping on the Windows 7 band wagon (or not)...

With the recent release of Microsoft Windows 7, an obvious stir among PC users was created worldwide. A rush to get a copy of the highly anticipated release was seen in the PC marketplace in the latter months of 2009, with PC users signing up in droves to an advanced list even before Windows 7 was actually released. This excitement was "created" as with any good marketing scheme; planting the seed in the mind of PC users that this release would change their computing lives.

It is changing lives. My concern in this article, is whether it is for some for the worse. Let me explain. PC users who use notebook (laptop) machines are growing in numbers. When these users decide to upgrade, usually this involves buying a new unit outright. They can shop for the features they want, the price and of course the operating system. The notebook will be configured for them with the hardware and operating system working harmoniously. Little thought needs to go into whether their video, sound or peripherals will work and indeed if they have problems, they can return the entire item - in many cases complete with packaging.

Desktop PC users on the other hand, may not be so fortunate. The decision to upgrade operating systems should be for most an easy decision. Upgrading, even the word, sounds as though it should be a "good" thing. However, unless desktop users have made the decision to upgrade their hardware - that is get a brand new "box" with everything in it (similar to their laptop counterparts) - to go along with the very latest operating system, their upgrading experience can be fraught with complications, confusion, frustration and even outright disaster.

Desktop users (from my experience) seem to be more inclined to upgrade different parts of their PC in a piecemeal fashion. They may even watch for the latest processor, hard-drive or video card. I am sure that when they do so, they keep in mind the importance of choosing their upgrade within the parameters of the machine with which they are working. But when they upgrade to a new operating system, it seems they forget important hardware concerns that should be taken into consideration before OS implementation. Such as, "Will my _______ work or be supported in Windows 7?" (insert PC component of choice).

If a destop PC is even three years old (or older), many times the answer to this question will be "No" or in some cases "Yes, but with the loss of some functionality." In worst case scenarios, users have rendered their otherwise working PC into a rather large, desktop paperweight - with no function whatsoever, unless you find value in that "blue screen" for some asthetic purpose. The range of problems vary, but aspects common to the experience of recently "upgraded" Windows 7 users may include: peripherals not recognized or not working (especially printers), no sound, no video and a host of other problems that could have been avoided altogether.

As a PC user and computer enthusiast for many years, I used Windows 98se for as long as I could. Prior to that, I had Windows 95 which was problematic at best (in my opinion) and before that, good old DOS! In 19 years of PC use, I have burned through only 3 operating systems. I currently still use Windows XP Home (32 bit) to this very day. I will not be upgrading my operating system until such time as I am ready to make some wholesale hardware changes as well. When I do so, the hardware will be stamped "Manufacturered and Tested for (insert name of OS here)."

I hope your PC upgrading goes smoothly. It can, if you pay attention to the special relationship that must exist between your PC hardware and your operating system.

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