Computer Courage Newsletter – February 2008 – Roadmap to Vista & Leopard

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New Systems, New Decisions:A Roadmap to Vista and Leopard

In the last several months, we have seen the release of two very highly anticipated operating systems – Microsoft’s Windows Vista and Apple’s OS X 10.5 (Leopard.)Now that the hoopla has died down a bit, many of our customers are wondering, and asking us – should I upgrade?How will these operating systems help me? In this article, we’ll take you through the main benefits (and drawbacks) of upgrading, and give you our honest opinion on these shiny new operating systems.

Windows Vista
Windows Vista was released an unbelievable seven years after its predecessor – Windows XP.Why?What took Microsoft so long?Well, for one thing Windows XP proved itself over and over to be a stable, relatively secure, and popular operating system.Additionally, Microsoft just couldn’t get Windows Vista right. So seven years later, what do we prefer – Windows XP or Windows Vista?The truth – we think Windows XP is the better operating system.

Vista’s New Features. Let’s start with the good.Windows Vista does deliver some nice features, most notably:
•Really fast and easy searching (through a technique called indexing)
•A beautiful looking interface (called Aero)
•A new and improved Internet Explorer 7
•Countless security improvements
•Parental Controls.

Vista Without Vista. One problem with Vista’s new features is that almost every single one is available in Windows XP – usually for free!Internet Explorer 7, security updates,and Windows Desktop Search are free downloads for Windows, and parental controls can be easily added to XP with 3rd party software. Everyone still supports XP – we have yet to see any software that is Vista only, so anything you can do on Vista can be done on XP.

Vista’s Problems. Windows Vista is slow and confusing.It’s laden with excessive background tasks such as DRM – Digital Rights Management – which chews up resources while watching to make sure you don’t try to illegally copy DVDs.If you don’t get the right version (there are 7 versions!) you can end up without features that you had on XP!Vista is very stable, but a lot of older peripherals, like printers, just aren’t supported in Vista.

What To Do. Computer Courage strongly recommends against upgrading your current Windows XP system to Vista.That’s a no brainer.But what about all these new systems that come pre-loaded with Vista?You can go with Vista, but we recommend staying away.Many manufacturers such as Dell are offering systems with Windows XP installed (especially on their Small Business site – which is a great place for anyone to find a deal).Other companies, such as Wal-Mart, are offering bare-bones systems with Linux.You can buy one of these and install a fresh copy of Windows XP, and we can help.

We’re surprised to be recommending a 7 year old product over a brand new one, but facts are facts.Vista is OK, but XP is better!

Apple‘s Leopard
Not to be outdone by Microsoft, in recent months Apple came out with a new operating system as well.OS X 10.5 (nicknamed “Leopard” in Apple’s tradition of naming operating systems after big cats,) is touted as having over “300 new features”.We investigated this claim, and found that while the 300 figure is a bit of a stretch, Leopard is indeed loaded with great new features, particularly an amazing new backup system called “Time Machine.”

Leopard’s Best New Features
Time Machine: This feature alone makes the upgrade worthwhile.Time Machine is a brilliant backup service that runs automatically on your computer and backs up your files and system to an external hard drive.Time Machine is completely automatic.Restoring files is amazingly easy, and the program is extremely reliable.Kudos to Apple on this one.Look out for “Time Capsule” – a new product just announced that will allow you to backup all your Macs in the house to one central unit, wirelessly.
Quick Look:Now youcan preview most documents instantly, regardless of what software you have installed.Just hit the space bar and you can view pictures, movies, Microsoft Office documents, emails, MP3s, and more.Very convenient.
Boot Camp: It’s official – Macs now run Microsoft Windows.And they run it well – Macs can run both OS X and Windows – and you can switch back and forth with the click of a button.Windows is fast on these Intel Macs too!
Application Enhancements: We’ve observed terrific enhancements to Mail, Safari, iChat, Finder, and more.
Parental Controls: Apple did a very nice job with Parental Controls – it can help you keep your children’s experience safe and worry-free by filtering web and other content.(We can help you install parental controls on PCs and older macs as well.)

Upgrading to Leopard. Unlike with Windows Vista, we do recommend upgrading your existing Mac to Leopard.Even if you have an older G4 Mac, Leopard speeds up the machine, and gives you new features, and of course it offers you the all-important Time Machine.The installation can be a bit confusing, but we are always willing to help out with that.The upgrade costs about $130, or just $200 for the whole family (up to 5 Macs.)

Mac Vs PC – What Does Computer Courage Prefer?
Computer Courage uses both Macs and PCs every day.While Leopard is probably the fastest and most advanced operating system out there, we still love Windows XP and particularly, we rely on Microsoft Outlook daily (only available for the PC.) PC prices are great too – for business or personal use, you can’t beat a complete Dell system for around $600.We love the Apple MacBook laptops; they are compact, affordable, and super reliable.So for now we’re sticking with both PC and Mac. They’re both great for business and personal use, though businesses are overall happier with the wide array of software for the PC.Our advice – get one of each and we’ll help you set them up, network them, back them up, and learn how to get the most out of your computers!

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