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Issue #165: September 19, 2010

Q: I’m sure this has been asked several times, but I may have missed your answer in the paper.  I have XP on both my desktop and laptop at the present time.  Question #1…If purchasing Windows 7 to be installed – can I use the same purchase and install it to both computers or do I have to buy two separate programs? 

Question #2….Can an amateur like me (75 year old great grandpa) follow the installation instructions without loosing anything in the conversion, or is it best to go to a professional such as you, pay the fee, and have you do it? 

Question #3….I am satisfied with XP,so is there a need to change?  I realize that Microsoft is no longer going to support XP pretty soon.  I have a lot of old games on the computer that my wife and I enjoy playing now that run on XP, so….what guarantee do I have that these programs will run on Win. 7?

– Gary H.
Big Lake, Minn.

A: I’ve covered a few issues such as this in past columns, Gary, but anything I’ve already covered is certainly worth saying again.  The fervor over Windows 7 has died down somewhat since its release, but it is still a very important consideration for computer users, and the answers aren’t always obvious.  Let’s handle your questions in the order you asked them.

Question #1 is actually not a Win7-specific question, but rather a question of Microsoft’s licensing policy.  Microsoft generally has a 1-license, 1-CPU policy that they enforce by requiring you to “register” your copy of Windows within 30 days after it’s installed.  If you try to do what you describe, the first installation will register successfully, but the second one will fail.  If you try to skip the registration step, it will stop working in 30 days.

The answer to question #2 is, unfortunately, “it depends”. I hate giving that answer, but honestly, the biggest factor is a person’s ability to understand and follow directions, especially where it comes to computers, and Microsoft sometimes tends to use terminology that your average person doesn’t understand.  Your concern about losing something (and I’m assuming you mean pictures, documents, etc) is very valid, because once you’ve started the process, you generally must see it through to its conclusion.  If you run into a problem, you can’t just power-off and start again, so you need to be prepared to answer whatever questions the installer asks.  Having said that, the questions are usually not highly technical as long as you have a good, basic understanding of computer concepts like drive letters and directories.  If that is intimidating to you, you’re best off taking your computer to a pro.  The money you pay will cover both the upgrade, and your peace of mind.

Regarding question #3, I would say that at the present time, there is no huge rush to upgrade.  I personally have several Windows XP implementations at home and at work, and no immediate plans to upgrade.  You have no absolute guarantee that any legacy software will run on Win7, but the chances are good.  They increase to excellent if you purchase the “Pro” level of Win 7, which includes the ability to run virtual machines of prior operating systems, so you would literally be running your Win XP games on a copy of Win XP, even though you’ve upgraded.

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