Buy A New Windows 7 System, But Please Don't Upgrade

With Windows 7 set to hit store shelves on Oct. 22, retailers are urging consumers to buy Windows 7 upgrades for as little as $119.48 .

But that $119.48 could get you into a lot of trouble. Completing an operating system upgrade is not for the faint of heart. Many consumers that choose to upgrade, even those that consider themselves tech-savvy, are going to find themselves mired in a high-tech maze longing for the comfort of their old Windows XP or Vista operating system.

Technology pundits far and wide have cautioned users with certain systems to avoid upgrading because they will have to perform what Microsoft calls a clean install. That, in effect, means wiping your hard drive clean and starting from scratch.

The Wall Street Journal technology guru Walt Mossberg, renowned for his practical, no-nonsense look at new technology products, cautions in a column titled - For Some, Move To Windows 7 Will Be Tough" - that the upgrade process "will be anything but simple for the huge base of average consumers still using XP, who likely outnumber Vista users. It will be frustrating, tedious and labor-intensive." Mossberg even went so far, with Microsoft's help, to put together an "official" chart that showed only 14 of 66 possible upgrades could be completed with an in-place upgrade rather than a clean install. Those are not good odds.

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For my money, the retailers aggressively hawking upgrades are doing consumers a disservice. And whatever you do, don't tell me a pimply-faced teenager is going to be able to advise me on which systems can be upgraded without the pain of a clean install.

Please, don't do it. Windows 7 is not a reason to upgrade your old system. But it is a reason to look at buying a new system.

Give Best Buy credit for providing free express shipping on computers with Windows 7 preloaded. Best Buy, in fact, is promising on its Web site that those who preordered by 11 a.m. on Oct. 21 that they will get their new systems on Oct. 22.

Best Buy is offering a wide range of laptops, netbooks and desktops with Windows 7, including a Toshiba Satellite Laptop with Intel Celeron Processor, a 15.6-inch screen and a 250-GB hard drive with Windows 7 Home Premium for only $349.99; an Asus Eee Netbook with an Intel Atom processor, a 10.1-inch screen and a 250- GB hard drive with Windows 7 Starter priced at $379.99 and an Asus Essentio Desktop with Intel Core 2 Quad Processor with a 1- TB hard drive running Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit for $649.99.

The point is there are great buys on new Windows 7 systems. If you want to buy a new system on Oct. 22, go ahead and make Microsoft's day. But once again, please, please, please don't try to upgrade your old system. For many users, that is a move they'll live to regret.