I was asked via email this week a couple of times for my opinion on whether consumers should upgrade their Windows XP computers to the upcoming Windows Vista. Today in the Seattle Times, there's a question from a reader of the Personal Technology Q&A column who asks "whether there would be any advantage to my upgrading to Windows Vista?"

The author, Patrick Marshall, recommends that they hold off on upgrading from XP until Vista is glitch-free:

"I wouldn't recommend anyone upgrade to Vista on a machine they care about until the new operating system starts shipping, and maybe even for a while after that. I've been using Vista on a test machine for several months and there are still a number of glitches.

"Once Vista ships, you may want to consider upgrading, especially if you're using your computer for such things as online banking. Fact is, while Vista offers a new slick look to the operating system, the more significant improvements are in security."

OK, that makes sense, and falls in line with my general advice: waiting until Windows Vista is released and shipping makes sense for many consumers. At our home, not all PCs have been migrated to the latest Vista builds for various reasons... mainly related to legacy games for the kids that only run under Win9x compatibility mode. Many advanced consumers and computer users have already installed the Vista release candidates to get an early look at what to expect. I know of many consumers using the latest versions of Vista, and their experiences have been generally positive.

At home, I have found that the latest release candidate performs much better and is more reliable than XP (disclaimer: I work at MS), and admit that I run Windows XP and Vista side by side for various reasons. (In one case, I'm waiting for a hardware BIOS upgrade for my Tablet). That's why I set up a dual boot system when I started with Vista RC1.

PC World published their own Ten Reasons to Buy Windows Vista last February, when they said...

"while the sleek new look and polished interface caught my eye, it's what's under the covers that impressed me most. Microsoft's done a great job of improving security across the board. Things like Windows and spyware library updates are streamlined, and I definitely appreciate the more robust Backup software.

"Here's what to be excited about:

  1. Security, security, security.
  2. Internet Explorer 7.
  3. Righteous eye candy, with the Aero Glass interface.
  4. Desktop search.
  5. Better updates via Windows Update, making it easier to keep your PC secure.
  6. More media: Windows Media Player, Windows Photo Gallery, DVD Maker and a new Movie Maker.
  7. Parental controls.
  8. Better backups with improved built-in data-backup software.
  9. Peer-to-peer collaboration.
  10. Quick setup."

If you have one PC at home, run the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor to evaluate your current PC, as I mentioned in a previous post. That will provide a good assessment.

There are also reasons that some customers may decide not to upgrade, due to PC hardware limitations or legacy software incompatibilities - that will be the case for our kid's PC, until we test their must have game software. That includes their favourite educational software like Encarta that is included in Microsoft Student, edutainment titles (Knowledge Adventure's Adiboo!), general entertainment titles like our own Zoo Tycoon, online sites like PBS Kids! to MSN Games and Disney's ToonTown (which seems to work fine so far in IE7). 

I'm off now as the kids are up - time to finish making Halloween costumes. We have an extra hour thanks to daylight saving time.

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