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Issue #625: July 14-20, 2019

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Q: I have a Sony VAIO computer with Windows 7. I have the Sony Movie Studio Platinum 12.0 that I plan on using for editing of some mini-VHS tapes I plan on transferring to disc and up-loading for editing using my VAIO laptop. I received my Windows warning saying Windows 7 will no longer be supported after Jan 2020. I plan on retiring in 2021 and dedicating time to accomplish the transfer of all 100 of the Mini-VHS to CD and edit using Movie Studio Platinum. I also received Sony notification that my computer is not compatible with the Windows 10 upgrade because of the Stamina-Speed toggle switch I have on my laptop. Can I continue to use my VAIO Windows 7 laptop for video editing and occasional reading of e-mails via outlook (I don’t like COX webmail motif) and stay off internet (I’ll only use my Chromebook) and not worry about some future glitch or security concern with Windows 7 during my video editing escapade or do I need to break down and buy a newer computer? Or should I buy/install Windows 10 and see what happens. I’ve searched internet and some VAIO owners have installed Windows 10 despite the Sony warning without issues.

– Tim R.
Crestview, Florida

A: Oh my – what a mess. You mentioned a lot of obsolete technology in your question, Tim. Your problem vividly illustrates both the futility of trying to keep an older system viable, and the corollary, chasing the bleeding edge of technology to try to stay current. Neither strategy is perfect, but you can make some good choices along the way.

Let’s start with your computer itself. Back in the day, Sony produced laptops that were always a bit more indulgent (read: pricey) than most of their competition. Aside from paying for the Sony brand name itself, there were often other proprietary features, the value of which can only be ascribed by the end user. Take the so-called Stamina-Speed switch you mentioned. It allows you to select between longer battery life (“Stamina”) or higher performance (“Speed”). To accomplish this, Sony had to put custom software onboard to support the feature, and everything worked as-designed. But when it comes to computers, time is no friend. Planned obsolescence causes support for specific products to cease. In this case, even though Windows 10 can run on the laptop, there is no longer any custom software to support the Stamina-Speed switch. The laptop will function fine, but the switch will not.

I’ve advocated people getting off of Windows 7 in more columns than I care to think about. It is ultimately a losing proposition to try to keep going with an operating system that Microsoft is determined to bury. Eventaually you’re going to be in an untenable position. Whether it’s an incompatibility with hardware, software, or drivers, sooner or later, something will happen that you can’t recover from. More on this later.

As for your media, are you certain that your movies are still fully viable? VHS-C tapes, like all magnetic media, have a limited life expectancy. They don’t just fail outright, but their quality slowly degrades over time. The same can be said with CDs, your planned target medium. Ignoring for the moment that CDs themselves are also an obsolete medium, they are not an adequate permanent archival storage solution either. I don’t want to forget to mention the Movie Studio Platinum software. Version 12 is several versions behind what is current, and I would imagine with each successive generation of this, and other video editing software, newer and better features get built-in.

At the risk of self-aggrandizing, one of the wisest things that I remember saying in recent years was “You can make an awful lot of problems go away by purchasing a new computer.” With that in mind, here’s my personalized suggestions for you: First, verify the contents of your tapes and get them digitized as quickly as possible. Invest in a good, professional cloud storage solution to remove the possibility of loss through media or hardware failure. When you’re ready to retire, treat yourself to the latest and greatest machine that can be had at that time. It will be newer and nicer than anything you already own, and yes, something newer and nicer will come along immediately after you buy it. That’s the game. Then enjoy that new machine as you edit your videos to your heart’s content. Keep the master copies in storage, and distribute to friends and family either digitally, or on Blu-Ray or whatever as-yet-unheard-of media is in vogue at that time.

 

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