Should you upgrade to Windows Vista?

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Should You Upgrade to Vista?

By now, you've probably read early reviews about Window's Vista. With this latest version of its operating system, Microsoft has added animated displays and memory-hungry transparent overlays. With its heavy use of software running in the background, speed and memory are important issues if you are considering making an upgrade to this new operating system.

Should you upgrade or not? The answer depends on factors like the age of your current hardware and version of your current Windows operating system. But more importantly, you should decide whether or not you're dissatisfied with your current computer. Is it running too slow? Are your applications running efficiently? Are you a casual or power user?

Although many are still running Windows 98 and ME, Microsoft ended their support for these operating systems in July 2006 and there will no longer be any updates or security fixes provided for them. This will eventually cause problems for those using these operating systems as they try to upgrade their applications or add on peripherals, such as a printer, scanner, webcam or external hard drive. Now that Vista has been released, support of older operating systems will begin to rapidly dwindle. Hardware and software manufacturers want you to have the latest operating system, or at least Windows XP, to take advantage of their new products.

If you are one of those running Windows 98 or ME, and you're not satisfied with your computer's operational speed or are unable to upgrade your applications or peripherals, you may want to consider upgrading to a new computer with Windows Vista already installed. If you have the computer skills to keep Windows 98 and ME running this long, you will be able to adapt and learn all the new features of Windows Vista.

If you own a relatively new computer, purchased within the last couple of years, you are most likely running the current version of Windows XP. If you've installed the necessary service patches and/or have allowed Window's automatic upgrades to occur, you are actually in a good position. Windows XP is a well-documented and highly functional operating system for which there is continued, good support. Microsoft is committed to supporting XP for at least seven more years and is working on Service Pack 3.

If you're running Window's XP, you can stay right where you are and not be concerned about upgrading for a while, or at least wait until after the first Service Pack for Vista has been distributed.

However, if you are running a recent operating system on a fairly new computer and decide you want to upgrade, the key question you will need to answer is whether or not Vista will work on your present hardware. To help you answer this question, Microsoft has created a download called Vista Upgrade Adviser which will analyze your hardware and software and recommend the changes you need to make to run Vista smoothly on your system. You may want to test for compatibility with the Vista Home Premium version in mind. It contains all the robust features that may have enticed you to consider a Vista upgrade in the first place. And, although the price is attractively low, pass on an upgrade to Vista Basic – you will be disappointed with its lack of features.

Knowing that speed and memory are the biggest issues with Vista, don't be surprised if you have to purchase and install more memory and a Vista-compatible graphic board (1GB of RAM as a realistic minimum). But you can probably expect good deals to be available at your favorite electronic stores.

In summary, if you are currently operating Windows XP then you don't need to rush into a Vista upgrade. You can continue to enjoy computing with a solid, mature operating system for many years to come. If you have older hardware, the easiest path to Vista is purchasing a new computer with Vista pre-installed. The version of Vista that will give you the best return on your investment for years to come is Vista Home Premium with all the great features you've read about. If you're on the fence, test your computer for compatibility but be prepared to purchase and install more memory and a more powerful graphics board prior to installing Vista.

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