Here Comes Windows 7

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Here comes Windows 7

Windows 7 is scheduled for release at the end of October. Here's what you need to know between now and then.

What the heck is Windows 7, and why should I care?

Windows 7 is the new operating system from Microsoft that will replace Windows Vista...which was the new operating system from Microsoft that replaced Windows XP.

The operating system is the heart and soul of your computer. It manages the hardware and software resources on a computer. It's what makes the computer understand what you type on the keyboard, and it's what makes your email program go get your email. On a desktop or laptop computer, you have to have an operating system in order for anything else to work.

Windows 7 is scheduled to be released October 22. That means that new computers sold on or after that date will have Windows 7 installed. Most new computers now have Windows Vista. Many people are still using computers with good old Windows XP.

You can learn more about Windows 7 here:

Windows 7

Can I use it instead of Vista?

If your computer is running Windows Vista Home Premium or better, it should be capable of running Windows 7. I strongly encourage you to run the Upgrade Advisor (, however, before rushing into anything.

Can I use it instead of XP?

If your computer is running Windows XP, you can run the Upgrade Advisor to see how the computer would fare under Windows 7. However, in general it is not going to be a good idea to upgrade. As it says right on that Microsoft page:

... if you're running Windows XP, or any other operating system for that matter, we recommend that you experience Windows 7 on a new PC.

That is certainly my plan.

Do I have to get it now?

Absolutely not. If you are using Vista and you are happy with it, you don't need to do anything right now. If you want to upgrade to Windows 7, you will need to purchase a copy, back up your important data, install Windows 7, and copy your important data to the new installation.

I need a new computer now. Do I have to have Vista now and buy Windows 7 later?

Many computers being sold now will include an upgrade to Windows 7 when it becomes available. Sometimes that upgrade is free, sometimes it's not. Sometimes it's handled right there in the store where you buy your computer. Other stores tell you to contact Microsoft directly. Some computers do not come with this upgrade.

Ask the sales person what the policy is for the computer you are considering, and understand the answer. Keep asking until you understand. Don't take it for granted that you are entitled to an upgrade, and don't expect anyone to contact you when Windows 7 becomes available. You'll have to take the initiative.

If you buy a computer now, even if you don't think you'll ever need to upgrade, you should obtain the upgrade software. You never know what will happen in the future.

I like XP. I want to stay with XP.

You can probably do that for a while. You won't be able to buy a computer with XP installed on it for much longer, and as Windows 7 and Vista become more dominant you will find it harder to run programs designed for those more powerful systems on your XP machine. Microsoft will stop supporting it.

The good news is that if you are clinging to XP because of what you've heard about Vista, the reviews of Windows 7 describe it as "everything Vista was supposed to be but wasn't." I'm looking forward to that... [my copy is on order.]

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