back to article Hidden Windows 7 costs worry upgraders

Microsoft - if not IT pros - can breath a sigh of relief, as Windows 7 has given businesses a reason for not defecting to competing desktop systems. According to a new study released Wednesday, the number of businesses desperately looking for an alternative to Windows on the desktop has dropped significantly for the first time …

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No worries

I was pleasantly surprised by how compatible 7 was for XP software, even without the xp compatiblility mode on. That said, i never use really crappy old business software, which in my experience is dodgy even on correctly specced machines and OSs.

Also, most business machines would not even entertain a bigger OS than XP. They just are not powerful enough.

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Gates Halo

It works

I had a situation yesterday where a very old DOS based app wouldn't work on a new Win7 PC. I setup XP mode, and as far as the customer is concerned the virtualised app works just as it did before.

I hope MS continue this trend so that legacy code can be dropped and a more refined and secure OS can be produced while maintaining compatability.

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Anonymous Coward

Hidden pitfalls

Unfortunately, Microsoft have not dropped legacy code at all. XP mode is a just XP on a virtual pc tied in with the UI. I hope you informed your customer that the xp mode will need a seperate antivirus (with licence) and that they will also need to do all the xp updates with the virtual pc as well as xp mode does NOT link in with the windows 7 automatic update.

Far from creating a trend by removing legacy code and cretaing a more secure OS, Microsoft have used sticky tape and glue to patch a problem and left a gaping security hole

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FAIL

IT "Pros" ?

"Rob Meinhardt, president of Dell KACE, said in a statement announcing the survey that the lack of a direct upgrade path from Windows XP meant migrating to Windows 7 could be "challenging and costly for many organizations.""

Erm, except that there is one, Windows XP Mode*, which will even happily run your old hardware drivers. I suspect the survey results would have been different if they excluded people who hadn't bothered their sorry arses to get get hold of a preview or RC - or gosh golly, splash the cash and BUY a copy - and actually test it for compatibility issues.

Y'know, like professionals ought to.

*and that's assuming that your app base doesn't just work out of the box.

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Upgrade path meaning

He means that a business cannot just say to M$ that they want an upgrade from xp to 7 and it to all just work.

There isnt a proper upgrade procedure from xp to 7 and if there was, it would likely not work well.

It would therefore be expensive to just buy a load of new licences and have to set them all up on all of the old computers (and for them to all work perfectly).

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Anonymous Coward

Expensive new licenses...

Lets see...

There is no proper upgrade procedure from XP to seven

XP compatibility mode needs to be enabled to use those xp apps that simply will not work.

New Windows licenses for each PC in a business much be purchased.

New Antiviral/Antimalware application licenses need to be purchased.

Going forward I see no end to the trail of expenses to keep a Windows PC infrastructure.

A business needs a platform that can evolve & grow with them without adding significant costs to their enterprise. Linux or OS/X fills the need, although I keep reading that Apple does not want the corporate dollar. Still, with it's much less costly O/S (but more costly hardware) the Mac might be a contender.

In either case (Linux or Mac), business applications in use on XP can be run in a virtual machine while their Linux equivalents are sought-out. A Linux desktop machine can mimic the look of XP so the resistance to change on that front can be reduced. There is the printing infrastructure to consider, the printers need to work with the new O/S, and this may be an opportunity to reduce the cost of consumables on that front, research still needs to be done.

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Gates Halo

XP Mode

The only concern with XP mode is that it requires a virtualization capable processor (toss that old kit you twits), and that virtualization has to be enabled (and don't buy Sony).

So provided companies actually involve their IT departments... wait, strike that. As long as companies actually involve their IT techs in the decision making process they'll be fine.

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Only not

"Linux or OS/X fills the need, "

No offence to either OS, both of which I use frequently, but you seem to have left out the cost of reskilling your entire IT department and user base.

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Good catch

And for some reason, hardware virtualisation is usually disabled by default in the various BIOSes.

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Not really

>>"A business needs a platform that can evolve & grow with them without adding significant costs to their enterprise."

Not really, only if you have no clue how to run a business, why do you need a platform that can evolve and grow? didn't you plan your business? didn't you put in capacity? Do you have no clue where the business will be in 6 months? 60 months? No hardware/OS is any use unless it's the right one for your buiness, the reason why XP has been so popular and people are reluctant to more from it is that it does the job, it did it yesterday and it will probably do the job tomorrow, an example;

You buy a small office system for £5k that supports 5 users without needing to be upgraded. This is great if you never need more than 5 users, but if you know it's likely that you'll need more then don't paint yourself into a technological corner.

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Thumb Up

This

This is one issue that's always overlooked by the Linux crowd, and it's far from trivial.

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Gates Horns

Reskilling user base

I think the user base is the least of your problems - you inflict that on yourself every time you upgrade Windows or Microsoft Office anyway.

It is indeed reskilling the IT guys that's the challenge, for two reasons.

First, it means getting used to the way Apple gets in your way instead of how Microsoft does that, and getting used to the fact that you can't spend the morning drinking coffee because the machines still need to boot up and download new virus signatures and patches.

Secondly, because the improved usability and stability they will know quite soon that a number of them are surplus to demand. This means a manager who gets a smaller budget, and techies who have to start new projects to appear busy.

Call me a cynic, but I can't see this happen. It's good for the users, and good for the corporate budget, but IMHO IT would fight this to the death. Ditto for large consultancies because it means less work for them, and less lock in. Ain't gonna happen - that advice just isn't going to go into a report. Not unless the hapless author wants to be sacked. It's the same argument as for the use of Open Source..

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Anonymous Coward

Re:XP Mode

@Bill

Actually there are many more concerns about XP mode for any semi-decent I.T. team. As someone already mentioned, it requires it's own AV and patching in order to keep it "secure". Not to mention that you've taken a relatively secure OS (7) and poked a nice big gaping security hole in the side of it using XP.

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Anonymous Coward

XP on virtual machine, yay

"Erm, except that there is one, Windows XP Mode*, which will even happily run your old hardware drivers"

That's not exactly an "upgrade" as I see it. I can run XP on VMware also and I see that as a sidestep, not upgrade.

Why would anybody use a lot of money to buy something to run the OS they already have, tell me?

Much slower than now.

New OS (and machines) runs new programs and current (not "old" as many 7 fans like to say) software runs in current systems.

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Happy

no title as just waiting . .

for the trolls claiming their business relies on key applications that won't run under Win7

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Gates Horns

Compatibility fail?

Microsoft's biggest selling point with Windows is supposed to be its backwards compatibility. If stuff as recent as XP doesn't work, that seems to be a bit of a fail to me. Half the bloat of Windows is supposedly there to retain compatibility with old apps. Microsoft should either work hard to be fully compatible or drop it altogether, this halfway house just seems messy to me.

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Silver badge

Half of the bloat ?

Don't worry, that old XP bloat has been removed and replaced with some brand new, shiny Vista bloat that we're going to get to keep for the next 50 years.

There you go, all happy now, right ?

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None

86 per cent told KACE - recently bought by Dell - that they are concerned about compatibility when migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7.

im guessing these people didnt worry at all about compatability when they thought i know lets go linux or mac !!!

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Anonymous Coward

Compatibility...

IMHO virtualizing XP in the Linux or Mac host gets the job done nicely. Not like you're playing high-frame-rate games at the office... are you?

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Really?

You would really recommend installing Linux or osx then an xp vm within that environment as opposed to win 7?

Bear in mind win 7 xp mode does not need a licence where as running xp in a vm on another environment does...

Might as well stick with xp in that case.

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Anonymous Coward

XP license isn't a real problem

"Bear in mind win 7 xp mode does not need a licence where as running xp in a vm on another environment does..."

Which corporation doesn't have a ton of OEM XP licences hanging around?

XP licence even don't say anything about virtualization, so it's allowed.

You also could buy three (used) XP licenses on the price of one 7, essentially giving you the hardware for free.

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Windows 7 and legacy drivers

I was really disappointed with Windows 7 when I installed it on my two laptops and found that I couldn't use my trusty, old Olivetti Job Jet P200 workhorse. It's an old printer but perfectly serviceable. It runs fine with XP, but Windows 7 doesn't like the drivers.

Also, Windows 7 Home Premium doesn't allow back up to a network-attached server. Many homes now have these, and I think it should have been an essential feature that I actually used on Vista when I had it.

The fact that Microsoft have sacrificed compatibility with XP means that I have to seriously consider what's going to happen when there is a Windows 8. Will that break Windows 7 applications and drivers? Resolving these problems takes time, and I don't have the resources to run an IT department to sort them out for me.

Ubuntu is now so advanced as an operating system that I actually consider it viable that the next move I make will be away from Windows. I will also be steering my family down this route. It's simply going to be cheaper for me, in terms of time.

So sorry to disagree with the article, but I believe many people will be thinking like me and voting with their feet in the future.

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Anonymous Coward

re: Windows 7 and legacy drivers

So your main complaint about it is that the edition you purchased doesn't include features that are in the Professional / Ultimate editions?

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re: Windows 7 and legacy drivers

Well, fairly obviously, no. My main complaint about it is that Microsoft changed the API for hardware drivers after XP and broke compatibility with existing code.

There are also programs that work under Vista that won't work under Windows 7, such as legacy versions of Delphi.

I don't mind upgrading my operating system, but I don't like it when as a result of upgrading it breaks things that used to work.

I mention the backup thing because Vista Premium did allow back-up to NAS drives. Admittedly it's possible that I could have become aware of that fact having done more research, but Microsoft don't make it easy for you to find that out until you've actually purchased the upgrade and find it doesn't work.

It's just another program that used to work and now doesn't. And my idea of progress doesn't involve breaking things.

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FAIL

"Premium" vs "Ultimate" || "Professional"

Umm... basic functionality that is lost when transitioning to a product that is marketed as being better than what you have means that you are being played. Network Attached Storage (not Network Attached Server (you can't have a server that is not attached to a network because then it wouldn't be able to 'serve' anything)) is pretty basic stuff. Did they also kill peer-peer drive sharing or put a limit on the size of the share?

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Stop

@davtom

"Admittedly it's possible that I could have become aware of that fact having done more research, but Microsoft don't make it easy for you to find that out until you've actually purchased the upgrade and find it doesn't work." Your right there was nothing on the internet about windows 7 and no Betas or RC's so u could try before u buy. Doing as little as typing 2 words into google would have given u all the info u needed.

Oh and Delphi works fin on windows 7 "http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XV-MgDE_vOg" took me 2 seconds to find that out.

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Gates Halo

Not Win7 issue. Talk to your vendor.

Drivers are not Microsofts issue. It's a vendor issue. If your %thingy% doesn't work in Win7 because of drivers then your vendor didn't bother to write them and get them approved for inclusion. Or even bother to write them for a separate download for that matter.

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@Brian 6

I'm not interested in beta-testing Microsoft's software for them, so no, I'm not going to try any of their release candidates.

I'm not running Delphi 7, but that YouTube vid might be helpful, thanks.

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@Bill

Why should a hardware vendor have to update a perfectly-working driver because Microsoft removes support for it in a future OS?

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FAIL

Yeah

"I'm not interested in beta-testing Microsoft's software for them,"

By which you mean "Oh, I never thought of that". Or is it just that you weren't interested in finding out what was compatible and what wasn't before you rushed into the upgrade without a clue ?

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Anonymous Coward

you're not beta testing for them

aye, you're not beta testing for them.. you're testing the applications and services *you* provide and support to see if there will be any issues with the latest OS. Cause, you just know a director will turn up with a shiny new laptop sporting the latest OS and demand you put their business apps on there and it doesn't look good on your side when things go tits up and you didn't see it coming.

It also then gives you plenty of lead-in time to push for that decrepid CRM app to be replaced/upgraded or to make a case for some new machines to replace those 6 year old boxes everyone bitches about.

I suppose it's not your job to ensure the next service pack for windows doesn't bork your apps/services either?

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Unhappy

Win7==Win95 (2010 edition)

Unless MS is doing something really significant on the server front I think win7 is the beginning of the end of windows.

As a common service person I'm starting to see issues like failed motherboards etc. Rarely can these be replaced with like systems. In the past you could do a windows repair install to get your system going again. Not the case with Vista and Win7 if your system cant boot into windows your forced to do a compete install, ie all the applications services etc. Thank you MS more downtime....

Then you have concepts like junctions. Bodged up symlinks, its going to be fun when viruses start using these.

XP compatibility mode a VM that simply puts loads of guff everywhere on your system.

They've got things running well through all their tweaks optimizations an patches of vista, but how on earth can it be maintainable into the future? Win95 was a good step forward on win3.1, there next version win 98 was some window dressing and usb, then we had winME the win95 codebase just couldnt be tweaked anymore without it becoming too unstable. So they jumped to the sever version WinNT codebase much more stable.

I just dont think MS have anywhere to jump to....

I've gone penguin and its nice to be able to fix things, rather than be treated as a pirate.

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Perhaps they are gone already?

Perhaps the reason that the number of businesses considering switching to alternatives has decreased is because some have already defected.

If half of IT shops were considering defecting last year, and a measurable amount did, then their numbers would be less this year, no?

-dZ.

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Pint

@DZ-Jay -gone already

My thoughts exactly. Glad to see I'm not the only one who can understand basic arithmetic.

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Silver badge

I think

That most of the respondents don't have a clue as, due to the inclusion of compatibility mode for just this purpose, shitty old specialist apps should run far enough into the future until you can rewrite, their creator can rewrite, or you can move off of them.

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Silver badge
Linux

Microsoft must Indeed be releived

To see that the usual " must upgrade to newest windows" pavlovian response is still evident amongst so called " IT pros" after the huge scare they got after Fista was unleashed on an unsuspecting world. Even today these same IT pros will carry on about the "retraining costs" associated with alternative office suites while at the same time blithely planning enterprise wide rollouts of win7 plus office 2007 to users who have never heard of "ribbons", task bar groups and bread crumb trails. Somehow I suspect that the most important training that is under consideration here are the MCSE certs of the "IT Pros" themselves who are well aware that were they to move away from their proprietary MS platforms then their proprietary MS certifications will become worthless. It's quite sad really.

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Anonymous Coward

@Goat Jam

The majority of Linux posts I've seen advertised don't mention any Linux certification requirements. Given that Linux is no more difficult to learn than Windows, all MCSEs should have to do is - well, learn Linux. No biggie. For an interviewer, they'd be a far more attractive prospect than a zealot who'll whinge every time he's asked to use MS stuff. People get MS qualifications because they know managers think they're getting someone skilled in the products they're using. That simple. A smart way to increase your chances of employment and pay the bills. Expecting them to worship you as an IT god just because you know Linux is pretty naive. Well, willfully blind at this point. If they're using both - well, MCSEs have qualifications and you don't. If they've switched to Linux? Well, MCSEs have qualifications and you have - "Look at me! I can use Linux! I can use tired plays on MS product names! Woooorshiiiiiiip me!" That's gone beyond sad, through pathetic and settled nicely into contemptible.

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It's not hidden costs, it the blooming obvious costs

I never got the XP mode to work anyway, it was a failure out the box because of what you had to have for it to work. As was half the glossy niceness of win7. Most business won't want it or need it, and as has been said no machine can run win7 in offices I work in (NHS) They simply can't hack it on a 1,8 GHZ and 512 MB RAM.

The software we use could run on Vista but IT can't afford staff to maintain the OS problems (We tried with laptop roll outs), never mind the legacy software, so 100's of machines sit in a warehouse with Vista on, as we had the budget then.

Now we don't have the budget and IT staff have been culled. (Not just cut) So we can't afford Win7 upgrades or the time to put win7 on the machines in the warehouse.

So again, win7 is a luxury we neither want nor can afford (or need to be honest).

XP is comfortable and liked by staff, so for now at least my PCT won't be upgrading and the ones around here won't be.

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Linux

How much did it cost them?

From what I've heard, microsoft have had to discount corporately reasoanbly heavily. This must have hurt their bank balances badly.

On the private arena, I've actually changed a small number of my friends over to Ubuntu and after a short introduction and a few days of them getting used to it, without exception they are all happy and working well. One particular friend remarked that she wishes she made the switch year ago ... I didn't have the heart to tell her that Ubuntu has only recently achieved this level of polish.

On the coroprate side, there is pressure to move over to Open Office and investigate other open source alternatives; but as for the desktop, it looks like Windows XP will have every inch of life wrung out of it before we switch the busines, most likely to Win 7 unless something stunning happens on the ubuntu desktop between now and then .. that's just my opinion as a governmental IT grease monkey, of course. Eyes are on the next incarnation of Ubuntu and thoughts are turning over internal company clouds ... so microsoft are by no means high and dry yet.

One particular friend was stunned when I built Ubuntu on his new PC for him. "Don't you need the drivers CDs?" he said as I tossed them asside with great abandon. "Nope, just an internet connection." and everything went sweet as a nut.

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Silver badge

"sweet as a nut"

Personally, I don't find nuts sweet, but rather bland. Either that or totally annoying.

But I'm sure that's just me.

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Anonymous Coward

um

I haven't used supplied driver disks for a decade when applying a fresh coat of windows to a machine - I just use the internet too ;) For times when it's the NIC, just download a copy on another machine and slap it onto a pen drive.

Or, I'll use my WDS/RIS server and have the drivers baked into the install so I don't need to do anything.

One thing I'd love to see in Linux is a concerted effort to integrate linux desktop clients with an already existing windows network. An ability to translate some of the group policy settings would be a good step towards gaining support and providing alternatives.

Of course, it won't stop the gravy train of cash to MS, since you'd still need to pay MS for the CAL even if it doesn't run a windows desktop... but it could be a great step towards a full *nix backend in what was a windows only environment.

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Gold badge

Re: um

"I haven't used supplied driver disks for a decade when applying a fresh coat of windows to a machine - I just use the internet too ;) For times when it's the NIC, just download a copy on another machine and slap it onto a pen drive."

Absolutely! As a general rule, you don't want to use the *vendor's* driver CD if you can possibly avoid it. The actualy driver is probably a "higher performance" one that wouldn't pass the WHQL tests and the disc will contain a "setup" program that installs several hundred megabytes of "useful applications provided to you free of charge by our partners". Windows Update, on the other hand, will provide a WHQL-certified driver (not a perfect QA system, by any stretch, but certainly better than trusting the benchmark-obsessed vendors) and nothing else.

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Stop

Things move on

To use an analogy with hardware - remember when USB became standard and motherboard manufacturers stopped fitting parallel ports? There were loads of people who threw away perfectly good printers and REPLACED them with USB models.

The same thing applies here, at some point that system your company relies on will stop working purely because things move on. It's expensive, annoying and a fact of life - deal with it.

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Throw-away-mindset...

It costs money to toss out perfectly serviceable equipment like printers.

"There were loads of people who threw away perfectly good printers and REPLACED them with USB models".

Foolish people. A parallel PCI expansion card costs what... $20.00? A new printer is (cheapest) $49.00? Perhaps a little less? Ink for that new printer will cost you more than the printer itself. A parallel expansion card in each new PC could have saved THOUSANDS of dollars.

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Anonymous Coward

printers

or, you know, discover the wonders of laser printers with an ethernet card in them since a laser printer is far more cost effective than inkjets and far better quality printouts too. They don't cost much, less than £200 for one now and the toners will last far longer (and don't dry up!) than ink carts.

Maybe, buy a jetdirect box and hook up a couple of printers to it and strip away that waste of a printer per desk and make them users get up every now and then... it'll do em good ;)

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Actually printers cost zilch

The "throw-away" mindset in this case is the cheaper option. A printer always comes with a full set of cartridges. When you replace them all the first time you quickly realise that the the manufacturers are giving the printers awayy for next to nothing and making the money on the consumables. So, yes, it probably was cheaper to get a new printer than PCI card.

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Full set of cartridges?

Or are they special low-capacity ones that they just supply with new printers? They certainly do that with toner carts that come with new printers.

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Unhappy

SRAM

Sadly I've yet to find any solution to reading SRAM cards natively on a notebook, Windows XP used generic drivers to read them, however they now seem non-existant in Windows 7, which is a bit of a shame as they are required for some legacy kit.

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Anonymous Coward

I haven't seen any hidden costs as yet.

At work I'm running a Dell Optiplex 745 with Core 2 running @ 2.13GHz and 2GB RAM.

It runs Windows 7 just fine.

It runs also runs 1 XP virtualisation session just fine at the same time as running Code::Blocks, IntelliJ, Firefox, Excel and maybe a couple of other applications. After that it gets a little slow and stuttery.

I like the user-interface more now I'm used to it, and it's been lovely and stable. I do use XYPlorer rather than Windows Explorer though because the new Win Explorer interface really does my head in.

Can't say I've noticed any hidden costs at all. We checked the compatibility of my PC and it was OK (4.1 units of compatibility, whatever that's supposed to mean), I installed Windows 7 and applications on it (took half a day) and that was it.

I guess if you've an older computer, or one with less grunt, then upgrading will be a pain in the arse because you'll need new hardware; if you bought your computer in the last year or two though and didn't go for totally budget model I can't see what (other than affording the upgrade) the problem is.

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Gates Horns

Love it, hate it

I upgraded from XP to 7 and in general really like it. What I hate is filling up my trashbin with perfectly good hardware (mostly USB stuff) because drivers aren't available.

The other thing is MS Visual Studio 6 won't install. Yes I know I can run it under Virtual XP but its not the same. Try debugging an application that crashed on 7. It is much cheaper to keep XP than to upgrade to 7 and a new version of visual studio.

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