Your Windows XP computer is taking a bit longer to boot up these days. Response seems rather sluggish. Your friend, who just bought a new computer, tells you that Windows 7 is the greatest thing to ever happen to computers, and you must get it.
The next day finds you at your favorite store. You wander through the computer section, and there, in front of your eyes, is a gleaming new copy of Windows 7. Your eyes light up. You reach for it and place it in your…
STOP. Don’t go any farther. A little research is required before you break out the new software.
Do you remember how, when you bought your new XP machine, it came with 256MB of RAM (system memory, not hard drive size). It seemed slow until you bit the bullet and upgraded to 1GB or maybe even 2GB. And then it flew through your tasks.
Windows 7 has RAM requirements that greatly exceed Windows XP. If you don’t have at least 2GB, don’t even consider buying that Windows 7 copy. Most computers from the Windows XP era cannot handle more than 2GB. I see those every day. If you intend to install Windows 7 on a machine with 2GB, expect it to run slow. It is advised to have at least 4GB RAM for the best performance; some XP machines will not handle that much.
Next question. 32 bit or 64 bit? 64 is greater than 32, so 64 is better, right? Wrong! It depends on your machine. If you have a 32 bit machine you cannot install a 64 bit copy of Windows. It simply won’t work.
Another thing to consider is when upgrading from XP to Windows 7, you will be performing a clean wipe and install. The installer will not keep any programs or data on the drive. If you have a computer with Windows Vista (shudder) on it, it will upgrade and keep your programs and data during the upgrade.
Certain XP era programs will not work with Windows 7. Make sure your programs will be compatible or can be upgraded to Windows 7, or will work in Windows 7’s XP Compatibility Mode.
How can you find out all these things about your computer? The easiest way is to head over to http://tinyurl.com/7compatibility and download the free Upgrade Advisor from Microsoft. It will tell you what you need to know about upgrades and compatibility with your current computer, and what versions will work with your machine.
Option 2, if you must have Windows 7, is to buy a new computer. New desktops with decent specifications are in the $400 – $600 range, and laptops with Windows 7 can be found on sale these days for under $300.
Option 3 is to clean up your XP machine. Despite what your friend said, XP is still a very viable operating system. We’ll talk about cleaning up your computer in a later column.