Should I upgrade to Windows 7?

by Roberta Piket on October 7, 2009

in Messages from the Owner

In the November issue of Consumer Reports, the following question was posed in the “Ask Our Experts” Column: “Should I upgrade from my current Vista operating system to the new Windows 7”.

The answer the writer gives is essentially “yes”, assuming your computer hardware has the power to run Win 7. This is an example of why, while I think CR is a good source on info about cars and refrigerators, I find their computer advice at best confusing and misleading and at worst inaccurate and wrong.

(Billy suggested it might be the case that if I knew anything about refrigerators or cars I’d feel the same way about their advice in those categories. I hope that’s not true!)

This particular column repeats the same old “swift-boat” style attacks on Vista (I wish I could take credit for that analogy but I read it somewhere online): it’s unstable, it’s interface is confusing, it leaves a waxy build-up on my floor, etc.

With two Vista service packs (updates) out now and updated drivers available for most modern peripherals, Vista is stable and, with the proper hardware, reasonably fast. I know because I use it every day.

Beyond that, here is the main reason I strongly disagree with CR’s advice. Unless you bought a new computer in the last few months, you are going to have to purchase a retail upgrade copy of Win 7. That’s going to cost you at least $120. Then you’re going to spend an hour or two installing it. If you’re reading this blog there’s a good chance you’re going to have to pay someone (like me) to help you with that.

Here’s a better idea. Hang on to Vista until you’re ready to buy a new computer. If you’re not happy with how it’s running, you probably need some basic maintenance such as driver updates and/or hard drive defragmenting. (All operating systems need this kind of maintenance so you won’t save on it by upgrading to Windows 7.)

When you’re ready to buy a new computer, buy one with Windows 7 already installed. By then all the bugs that are inevitable in a new OS will probably be worked out. (Believe it or not, there were bugs in your beloved XP too. Three service packs later we barely remember that.)

I just installed Windows 7 on my system. Doesn’t that contradict what I just said? No. As a Microsoft Partner I get it through their “MAPS” program which I’ve already paid for. Plus I don’t have to pay myself to install it or troubleshoot it. I’m duel-booting with my Vista installation, which means I am running both Operating Systems on the same computer. When the computer starts up, I choose the one I want.

Am I doing this because I am unhappy with Vista? No. I’m doing it so I can tell you all about Windows 7. In future blog posts, I will be reporting on what I like and don’t like about it. Stay tuned.

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