Users should delay Windows 7 upgrade, support firm warns

Users should wait for Microsoft to work out the bugs in Windows 7 before jumping on the new operating system, a Syracuse, N.Y.-based computer support company said today.

"From the calls we're getting, as well as our own experience in the past with all Microsoft's operating systems, we're recommending that people stick with their time-tested OS and wait for the dust to settle," said Josh Kaplan, president of Rescuecom.

Citing a litany of reasons, ranging from the risk of losing data during an upgrade to tough economic times, Kaplan urged Windows users to put off upgrading to Windows 7 or buying a new PC with the operating system pre-installed. "There are some compelling reasons for both businesses and home users to move to Windows 7," Kaplan said, "so we're saying 'just wait for a bit.'"

Upgrading an existing machine -- whether it's running the eight-year-old Windows XP or the much newer Vista -- is particularly risky, he added, especially if users haven't taken time to make a full backup before they migrate their machines.

"Transferring all their data, their digital life essentially, is one of the most common, and most troubling, issues that users have," said Kaplan, noting that the chore is among the top problems Rescuecom's support technicians field. "Even if you're doing an in-place [upgrade], if you don't have a proper backup, you're still at risk. Without the proper preparation, moving to a new OS is risky for anybody."

Some users have found that out first hand. Among the top subjects on Microsoft's support forum is one that has put some PCs into an endless reboot loop when their owners tried to upgrade from Vista to Windows 7. Microsoft has not yet come up with a solution that works for all the users who have reported the problem, sparking frustration.

"I have had enough. I have now given up and have gone back to XP, which still works fine but is getting a little old," said "daeld" on the support thread dedicated to the endless reboot problem .

"Wait until your current hardware dies, buy a new PC with Windows 7 then transfer your data from backup to the new one," said Kaplan. "If you wait, there will be even more computers designed for Windows 7, and the driver situation will be better. While Windows 7 is made to be compatible with the same hardware and software as Vista, there are always exceptions. It's safer to wait for the patches and new drivers to be released."

Another consideration, noted Kaplan, is the price of Windows 7. The least-expensive single-license upgrade to the new OS costs $119.99, while the three-license Family Pack runs $149.99. "Given the economy, is that really a necessary expense right now?" he wondered.

Last May, Rescuecom posted five steps users can take to extend the life of their aging PC. "Making sure it's protected from malware, viruses, all the evil things on the Internet, that goes a long way," Kaplan said today. "Cleaning up your hard drive, the normal day-to-day computer maintenance, that's another."

Computerworld 's How to make Windows XP last for the next seven years , although more than two year's old, also includes tips that still apply.

"Any upgrade is a challenge," Kaplan concluded. "At the least, wait for the first service pack," he said, referring to the major updates and bug fix collections that Microsoft rolls out at infrequent intervals.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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