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technology Make a computer investment count

BY COLLIS JACOBS

Special to the Herald

Many computer users are reluctant to purchase a new computer during the “break-in period” of a new operating system, such as Vista or Windows 7. If you have waited to buy a new computer, you might wonder when is a good time to make the purchase?

Vista has been on the market for well over two years, but has faced continued controversy. Windows 7 will be available for the general public in October. Windows 7 has earned high marks from those who have tested the beta and early release versions.

So should you wait to buy a new computer? If you have an aging computer, upgrading is often not feasible. Advancement in computer technology and manufacturing has made new model computers faster and less expensive than models sold in previous years.

There is good news concerning system requirements for Windows 7. If you currently have a computer certified for Vista, it should also be ready for Windows 7. One exception is for a PC that came with Vista Home Basic and had only 512 MB of memory (RAM). In such cases, you definitely need to upgrade to at least 1 GB of RAM for the 32 bit version and 2 GB for the 64 bit version. If you plan to take advantage of all the enhancements like Windows Aero, I recommend 2 GB for the 32bit version. Some other system requirements are at least a 1.0 Ghz processor (32 or 64 bit), and 16 GB of free space on your hard drive for 32 bit, or 20 GB for 64 bit. Finally, Windows 7 needs a graphics device that supports DirectX 9 with Windows Display Driver Model 1.0 or higher, which should also have 128 MB of video memory.

Now, what about XP users or an alternative for netbook users? The Windows Vista Compatibility Center and the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor can help you determine whether your hardware and applications are compatible with Vista and help you find solutions to problems you might encounter. Search www.microsoft.com. Of course, as mentioned before, Windows 7 requirements are very close to that of Windows Vista. So if your XP machine is ready for Vista, you also will likely be set for Windows 7.

Though Windows 7 beta version may not be quite as efficient as XP, there have been promising studies done that show it may be a viable alternative for netbooks, which currently are somewhat limited to using XP.

Windows 7 is said to be more efficient than Vista and has a smaller memory footprint.

So whether you’ve had your PC for only a short time or you’re ready for a new one, don’t be afraid of being able to upgrade. Also, if you need a new PC, go ahead and get one with Vista. When Windows 7 is available in October, it will not be difficult to upgrade.

Collis “CJ” Jacobs, a technician with Computer Renaissance of Bradenton, can be reached at tech@cr-bradenton.com.

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