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by Phil Ball

Q. My old faithful computer had Windows XP which I hear is no longer safe to use on the Internet. I guess I have to buy a new one but friends have told me that I won't like Windows 8 so I am at a loss as to what to do. All the stores only have computers with Windows 8. Please advise.

A. When it first came out, Windows 8 offered a new way of working which was quite different from previous versions and most of the distaste for it evolved from that. There was nothing intrinsically wrong with Windows 8, it was just very different. It was designed to work more like smart phones and other modern electronic devices. The system is now more mature and changes have been made to make it more compatible for users of older versions of Windows. Between Microsoft's changes (Windows 8.1 update) and those of outside software makers such as Start8, Windows 8 is much more user-friendly that it was at the outset. In fact, it can be made to look and work very much like Windows 7. As with most new versions of Windows, Windows 8.1 is much faster and more secure than older versions so it is worth getting if only for those reasons. I recommend it.

If you still prefer Windows 7 which is very much like Windows XP in the way it works and looks, it is possible to find new computers that come with Windows 7. You probably won't find these computers in any store but they can be found online at places like Amazon and others. You might also want to consider buying Windows 7 and installing it on your present computer. Before you do, make sure to run the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor from Microsoft here. It will tell you if your present computer and your present software will work well with Windows 7. Most times, you merely have to update to the current version of the software but some older programs simply may not work at all. After running the advisor, you can make an informed decision about which way to go.

Published: Courier 9/28/14 - Page 3D