I feel enough has been written about Windows 7 at this point that I don't want to waste too much time on the Oct. 22 launch, or the features of Microsoft's "Hail Mary" operating system. Here are a few things to consider before you rush out and buy:
• Operating system specs: if your computer can run Vista comfortably then it will run Windows 7. If Vista lags and your system is right at the minimum - 1.0 gigahertz or faster processor, one gigabyte of RAM for 32 bit or two gigs at 64 bit, graphics card compatible of running DirectX 9 with a Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM) 1.0 or higher driver - then you might want to consider making some hardware upgrades first, or just waiting until you can buy a new system. You may already be obsolete.
Consider that most new games are already optimized for DirectX 10 at minimum and that DirectX 11 graphics cards are already out. As well, most new processors are well over the 2.0 GHz range, even for laptops, and usually have some kind of multi-core processor.
The cost to upgrade to Windows 7 from Vista or XP is $129.99 for the Home Premium edition, which is all most people will need. An all-new full version is $224.99. Considering you can buy an excellent desktop computer preloaded with Windows for about $700 it might not be worth it to upgrade all the way from XP just yet.
• Windows 7 is a bare bones launch, which means it doesn't come bundled with as much software as Vista or XP. You'll need to go to Windows to download a lot of different programs you may use separately. The first priority is to get Windows Security Essentials, a free program that protects against viruses, spyware, malware and other intruders. Then you might want to consider things like Windows Movie Maker, Windows Contacts, Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Photo Gallery and Windows Live Family Safety if you have young kids.
• Upgraders will be able to keep and access all their old applications through a custom install, but a complete "clean" install will require you to download everything again. You're also going to need to back up your bookmarks and favourites by exporting them as files to your documents folder or another folder you back up separately onto a second hard drive or thumbnail drive. Same goes for your other programs, personal files etc.
Considering how much junk piles up on computers these days it might be worth it to back up the files you really need (contacts, programs, documents, photos, videos, etc.) and do a clean install so you can start over with a clean slate. While this seems like it could take a long time it could actually be faster.