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Monday, November 30, 2009

Shall I upgrade to Windows 7?

The best thing I can say about Windows 7 after a few weeks of working with the program is that it is rather ordinary. There are no outstanding issues. There are no glitches or bugs. It just does the job an operating system is supposed to do. Now, as a genealogist, I have some other questions to ask.

What about the price? It is rather expensive, the prices at the larger retailers runs close to $300 with a few prices below that. The one big drawback is the upgrade from Windows XP is supposed to require you re-install all of your programs. Unless you have the original packages and all of the software keys and such, you are probably going to have to purchase some new software also. The upgrade from Vista is priced much less than the complete package but still from $50 to over $100 depending on whether you purchase the home version or the ultimate version of the upgrade.

How do the programs run? The venerable old Personal Ancestral File runs normally. Everything else I have tried also seems to work. (Since I am running the program on an iMac, there are some issues, but they seem to be related more to the platform than the program.

Would I recommend an upgrade? Only if your computer is newer also. It is likely that the new operating system will push hardware sales, if only to take advantage of the features and newer software. Windows 7 is supports both 32 bit and 64 bit operating modes. You can download the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor to determine if you computer hardware will run Windows 7 at all. But the program requires a 1 gigahertz or faster 32 or 64 bit processor with 1 gigabyte (GB) RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB RAM (64-bit), 16 GB available hard disk space (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit) and a DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver. If you don't know what all this means, you probably need to run the Upgrade Advisor.

Summary: Don't upgrade unless you are ready to spend time and money upgrading other programs and perhaps getting a newer computer. None of the arguments and reasons given by the pundits about Windows Vista seem to apply. The program definitely works, but it is still a huge process to either upgrade or purchase the completely new program. Microsoft has a Windows 7 Compatibility List and interestingly, some of the programs that are not compatible are from Microsoft itself. Very few of the genealogy programs are listed by Microsoft and some notable programs have yet to be tested or marked as compatible.

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