By Ben Gottesman  |  Posted 2001-10-30 Print this article Print

Dont Upgrade

You should, however, hold off on the upgrade if your computer doesnt have the horsepower. Microsoft is mainly encouraging upgrades among people who have machines that were built no earlier than the beginning of 2000. But our testing showed that performance is satisfactory on most 550-MHz or faster machines, assuming those machines have at least 128MB of RAM. Our own hands-on experience showed that performance is satisfactory even on most 300-MHz machines.

Are you still running some old DOS programs? You should determine whether your old programs, such as WordPerfect 5.1, would work with Windows XP before you upgrade. (By the way, it doesnt.)

The same rule applies with your hardware. The System Compatibility Check on the Windows XP CD identifies potential problems.

Another consideration is the cost of the new operating system. At $99 for Windows XP Home and $199 for Professional, the pricing matches earlier Windows upgrades, but you also have to consider the cost of programs that must be replaced, such as many of your utilities. To avoid leaving your system vulnerable, dont install Windows XP until you have purchased new antivirus software.

Many users in multicomputer households will cringe and probably balk at the thought of paying the full upgrade price for each system they want to move up to Windows XP—and rightfully so. Microsoft, as well as the entire software industry, needs to devise a more realistic licensing scheme for these increasingly commonplace households. (Microsoft does offer a small discount for additional copies of Windows XP.) Creating a product activation system that enforces the license without an appropriate pricing model is not the right solution.

Ben Gottesman Executive Editor Ben Gottesman is the PC Magazine executive editor overseeing feature stories on Web development and infrastructure, as well as the Solutions and Internet Professional sections. In the past, he has also been in charge of software and Internet features. Gottesman has been with PC Magazine for nearly nine years, the first seven of which were spent in PC Magazine Labs, initially as the project leader for software reviews and then as technical director. Previously, Gottesman was manager of software compatibility testing at the National Software Testing Laboratories in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.

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