HARK: WHAT LIGHT THROUGH YONDER WINDOW BREAKS

We’re going to try Windows 7 eventually, but there’s no rush. New operating systems fall under Rule One of personal computing: “Never buy anything with a low serial number.” Rule Two is: “No matter what you get, you have to get something else to make it work.”

There’s a reason for this: All new operating systems have bugs; big ones have big bugs. A few years ago we heard from the head of information technology for a fairly large company who said she never liked to upgrade to a new system until it had been around for two years. Looking at Apple’s new “Snow Leopard X10.5” operating system, for example, there are reports that under certain conditions it will erase all your data and the data cannot be recovered. Apple says the reports are true but they’re working on the problem. Tough luck about the lost data. Those new operating systems are great, aren’t they?

Most PC owners are still using Windows XP, which goes back two systems before Windows 7.  If you’re one of those XP users (Bob is) and still want to upgrade to Windows 7, there are several new tools to help you. The scary part about the upgrade is that Windows 7 wipes your old computer clean. Be sure to save your data to a backup drive first and make sure you have your original installation disks for programs.

Other roads to the promised land: You don’t need your old installation disks if you use iYogi.com, a remote tech support service. Their experts will do it all for you over the Internet, including program transfers, for $40.

If you choose that route, you will notice that the iYogi staff uses a tool you can buy yourself for $20. It’s called PCMover, from LapLink.com. The software will move everything over, whether you are currently using XP or Vista, and you don’t need your old disks.

THE FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX

Though the migration to Windows 7 is easier for Windows Vista users, the bad news is you have to stay with the same version.  So if you currently have Vista Ultimate, you have to buy Windows 7 Ultimate; you can’t just go with the cheaper Windows 7 Home Premium. Got all that? But the maker of PCMover says they can beat this problem, no matter what version of Windows 7 you choose.

It’s estimated that 70 percent of computer owners use Windows XP (Yea; Bob waves his hand again.). But Microsoft thinks a majority of those will eventually move up to Windows 7. One reason they think so is that Windows 7 uses power more efficiently. Microsoft claims businesses will get back the purchase price in a year or two just because of power savings.

If you buy a new computer with Windows 7 already on it, an easy way to transfer files from your old computer is with a new $40 transfer cable from Belkin.com. After installing their software, you plug one end of an eight-foot cable into the old computer and the other end into the new. Follow the on-screen prompts. It’s fairly fast; you can transfer up to 7,500 songs per hour to your new machine. This will not transfer your programs to the new operating system, by the way, just the files. A company called GoodSync makes a $30 program that also does this. You can get a limited free version at goodsync.com.

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