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Windows 7 complete

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Even at the best of times an operating system is a work in progress that requires frequent updates to stay current with other software and to patch security holes and incompatibilities that hackers are always turning up. I’m currently running three OS versions on different computers, Ubuntu on an old laptop, OSX Tiger and Windows Vista SP1, and all of them require almost weekly updates.

That’s why I greet the announcement that Microsoft has finished Windows 7 in time to make the Oct. 22 release date with a lukewarm “meh.” I happen to know that Windows 7 will never be finished and that by the time you get it home and load it on your computer there will probably be a few hundred megabytes of updates already waiting in the wings. That’s just how these things work.

In fact, Microsoft is already shipping out Windows 7 to partners and vendors with the understanding that a lot can happen in three months and things will need to be patched. If anything it’s probably better this way, as a limited release of the program in Beta and Release Candidate builds has already helped to uncover bugs and security holes.

I’m personally excited about Windows 7 as there’s no way I can afford to buy a Mac laptop at this time with the kind of bells and whistles I’d like to have. In fact, some of those bells and whistles aren’t even available on Mac laptops right now, such as HDMI out ports, Blu ray players, etc.

And as more than one tech columnist has pointed out recently, the operating system isn’t really that important anymore to the average consumer who is doing most of their computing on the web. If you use your computer for e-mail, Facebook and hockey boxscores it doesn’t really matter what kind of operating system you have.

Gaming is still better on PC, video editing is probably still better on Mac, but otherwise the difference between platforms — as the average person sees it — is getting smaller all the time. And while each system has proprietary software that is unique, all the good software out there is compatible with both systems.

Other than concerns about viruses I have no reason to stick with Mac, and even then Windows is taking the step of releasing free anti-virus and spyware software. Microsoft Security Essentials (www.microsoft.com/security_essentials) is now available in beta form, and early word is that it works. It’s also small, and won’t drag on your system performance like other security software out there.

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