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Tips & How-to's 28th January 2012 3185

Your computer’s operating system (OS) may seem rather unimportant compared to what the computer allows you to do.

In fact the OS is the vital underpinning software that supports its basic functions, such as scheduling underlying tasks, allowing programmes to run and controlling the hard drive, screen, mouse, keyboard/keypad and other peripheral devices. Windows XP OS has been around since 2001 and Vista since 2007. Here are 11 reasons for switching to Windows 7 (W7), which since 2009 has been Microsoft’s mainstream operating system (OS).

1 ) Windows XP reaches what Microsoft calls ‘End of Support’ (EOS) early in 2014, which means that security patches, bug fixes, enhancements and other updates will no longer be issued by Microsoft. Whilst 2014 seems a long way off it’s worth making the switch to W7 in a planned way, in line with your requirements and budget. By considering a switch to W7 now you’ll be able carefully to consider your options and beat any last-minute rush when it may be inconvenient and support is likely to be at a premium. Bear in mind that the risks of continuing to run XP on your computer will increase even before official EOS because Microsoft’s eye will probably come off the ball as engineers and users migrate to W7 and pressure to support W7 increases. There are plenty of reasons for switching to W7 so why not do so sooner rather than later and start to enjoy its features and benefits as soon as you’re ready?

2 ) Windows Vista is not a sensible upgrade option. It is no longer widely sold and is, effectively, W7’s flawed precursor. Vista had numerous usability and efficiency issues, which led Microsoft to replace it rapidly and effectively with W7. If you’re already running Vista the urgency to upgrade is not as great as from XP, but if your computer supports Vista it’s very likely to support W7 too.

3 ) W7 doesn’t have the same issues as Vista. Apart from a clean, more modern look it includes lots of new features including: Jump Lists; Snap; support for Windows Live Essentials, a free downloadable package of mail, photo and other high quality programmes; an improved Windows Task bar and full 64-bit support, which is a standard that improves speed and performance. Most XP computers only run the older 32-bit standard.

4 ) W7 has already proved itself to be a stable, reliable and user-friendly OS. In order to run properly Windows XP now requires 3 separate Service Packs (SP) each of which is an essential collection of updates, fixes and enhancements, and Vista requires 2 SPs. Only 1 SP has been issued by Microsoft for W7, which mostly enhances functionality rather than fixing bugs and providing security patches. Whilst you’ll still need to install occasional, smaller, Windows updates as a W7 user this process can be automated and in practice is likely to be less disruptive than updating XP or Vista.

5 ) W7 supports touch screen functionality, so if you have a touch screen device you can work without a mouse or keyboard. This is particularly useful if you want to use your computer in a kitchen, for example, or other environment where a mouse and keyboard wouldn’t look right or would create clutter.

6 ) It’s now quite difficult to buy a Windows computer from a mainstream retailer that doesn’t run W7, so if you want to replace your old hardware with a new kit you’re likely to be using it anyway.

7 ) It’s easy to find out if your existing computer will run W7. Microsoft offers a free Upgrade Adviser package than is freely downloadable and will create a printable report on your hardware and software’s compatibility with W7.

8 ) Plenty of advice and support is available, both free and paid-for, if you do choose to replace your hardware and/or upgrade your software to run W7. There are a few things you’ll need to consider, such as how to safeguard or transfer your data (documents, pictures, music, videos, email, etc.); how you want your new installation to be carried out and configured according to your user preferences. You'll also want to be sure W7 actually works properly after the upgrade with your other devices such as printers, external hard drives and cameras.

9 ) Once you switch to W7 your computer will work in concert, and be more compatible, with other W7 computers and other Windows-compatible devices, e.g. smart phones and tablets, which are being used in an increasing number of both home and work environments.

10 ) Windows 8 (W8), Microsoft’s latest OS, is due to launch late in 2012. Its Metro user interface uses apps that look similar those on a smart phone or tablet computer. It is primarily designed to run on touch screen computers and hand-held devices. Any touch screen computer running W7 should also run W8. A further OS upgrade from W7 to W8 should be relatively straightforward and inexpensive but will be an option rather than a necessity. So your W7 installation is likely to be future proof for several years, without needing a further upgrade in that period. It will also be possible to run separate W7 and W8 OSs on the same computer.

11 ) If you don’t want or can’t afford to switch to one of Apple’s great range of desktop, laptop and tablet devices then a mid-range or better W7 computer can provide you with broadly similar functionality for less money and without the need to make the transition from Windows to Apple's proprietary Mac OSX/iOS.

PC PAL is now offering advice about switching to Windows 7. We can also help you to check your existing computer’s compatibility with W7 and to work out the how, when and what of switching. Because we fix and maintain, rather than sell, computers we are vendor neutral and offer unbiased advice on the makes and models that will suit your budget and requirements. This advice is based on our cumulative years’ experience supporting Windows users in a variety of home, business and other settings. We’re happy to accompany you to a local computer retailer or to assist you to buy online. Finally we can advise you on and, if you prefer, set up hardware and install Windows 7 computing.

Please call your local PC PAL engineer, who is a Windows specialist, or visit pcpal.co.uk for more information about us and our services near you. We look forward to helping you switch to Windows 7.

You’ll be in seventh heaven.

Written by Bruce Meredeen, PC PAL Tunbridge Wells & Wealden


PC PAL is the UK's award winning Computer, Laptop, Mac & Smartphone support specialists, with experienced, qualified & local Computer Engineers based in your area. We are a name that local people have come to recognise and trust.

Please take a moment to read our feedback from our loyal customers, or find your local PC PAL Engineer.

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