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Upgrading or replacing? That is the question

The interest in Microsoft's newest operating system is quite high with many people anxious to try the newly-released Windows 7. Before running out and plunking down some hard-earned cash, consider how others are getting the new operating system.

One thing to decide is whether its time for a PC. If the system is more than 3 years old and currently has Windows XP, it may be time for a new one. Up to 3 years old and running Vista makes the PC much more of a candidate. The question is whether to put money toward a new system with Windows 7 preloaded makes more sense than upgrading an older system.

Once the decision is made to upgrade the current computer to Windows 7, know there are a few options. For users in a hurry, the first option is to buy a retail copy off the shelf. If upgrading multiple computers is the goal, keep an eye open for the "Windows 7 Family Pack." This option allows users the ability to upgrade three computers at home for $149.99, which is still a good price for upgrading only two computers. The family pack, available at retailers and on-line at the Microsoft Store - http://store.microsoft.com - has discs for both 32-bit and 64-bit computers so system compatibility is not an issue.

A sweet deal is available for eligible students who can get a copy of Windows 7 for a mere $29.99. The offer can be found on-line at www.win741.com with a current expiration date of Jan. 3, 2010.

If upgrading a current PC is the route, research the system to ensure the required device drivers are available. Vista introduced a new driver model Windows 7 followed, which is the main reason Vista owners are in a better position to upgrade than XP owners.

Ron Poland is a professor in the Computer Information Systems AAS program at Clinton Community College. Poland is certified in company repair and networking by the Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). He is also a Cisco certified network assistant. Questions may be sent to him via e-mail at ron@ronpoland.com.

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