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Monday, October 13, 2014

What to do about Windows

A friend emailed me, "My prehistoric Windows 7 laptop is still going strong. Since [it is] no longer supported, do I have to get a new one?" I wrote this reply on a Windows 7 laptop that I bought in 2009 (it came with the woeful Windows Vista):
  • Microsoft hasn't added anything interesting or helpful to the operating system since Windows XP in 2001. I doubt that Windows 10 will be worth the trouble of learning how to configure and use it. Don't migrate until you must.
  • Per official information, Microsoft will provide extended support for Windows 7 SP1 for many years — but you must be on SP1, not the original Windows 7. Extended support includes security updates, what you need most. So many enterprises refused to adopt Windows 8 that the screws are on Microsoft to give Windows 7 SP1 the same long runway that they gave Windows XP SP3.
  • Laptops last a long time, but back up your hard drive regularly. Aside from physical damage, the hard drive in your laptop is the most likely item to fail. If your battery is weak, it can be inexpensively replaced at Batteries Plus (600+ locations in 46 states).
  • If your laptop fails prior to the release of Windows 10, get it fixed; under no circumstances use the awful Windows 8. But if your laptop fails after the release of Windows 10 and the cost of repairing it is more than $100, buy a new laptop and bite the bullet on Windows 10.
Consider replacing Windows with Linux Mint if:
  • You make only light, personal use of your laptop;
  • You let your email stay on Gmail servers instead of downloading it with a client like Microsoft Outlook;
  • You don't sync your iPhone with your laptop; and
  • You know enough about a Unix command line to follow instructions when fixing a problem.
Recently I installed Linux Mint 17 (Qiana) on a laptop from 2004. It runs fine, and the installation was glitch-free. I was impressed.