7 Myths About Windows 7

A fine new operating system arrives amid a cloud of confusion.

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5. It's too expensive. The price of Windows 7 may seem unreasonable, considering it is a derivative of Vista and Microsoft is charging nearly as much for Win7 as it does for Vista. The Home Premium version, which is what most consumers will want, costs $119 for upgrading to Win7, versus $129 for Vista. The discount seems particularly thin when viewing Win7 as a fix to Vista's problems. But happy Vista users don't have much reason to upgrade (see No. 2). For Windows XP users, the upgrade cost is fair. Plus, for homes with multiple PCs, which seem to be a majority these days, Microsoft is offering a Family Pack that will upgrade three PCs for $150. That's a good deal for homes that can use it.

6. The initial release will be a mess. It's always safer to wait for new software to get tested in the market, and for Microsoft to release the inevitable fixes. But the pedigree of Windows 7 suggests that the problems will be fewer this time. Many bugs and hardware issues were worked out with Vista. For example, Microsoft worked to make sure that hardware drivers for Vista will also work for Win7. Problems will undoubtedly crop up, but they're unlikely to affect the core of the operating system, which also remains largely true to the battle-tested Vista. Win7 at the start seems to be one of the least risky system upgrades to make.

7. Mac users should abandon Apple. The Mac is still the standard for a computer that "just works." Apple has more control over the end product because it also assembles and sells the hardware. The Mac system is also more secure, if for no other reason than that a smaller market share makes a smaller target for criminals. Windows has to run on any batch of hardware that a maker or user throws together. That's one reason Windows requires more tinkering. But Windows also comes from a culture that is more influenced by techies who like tinkering and think everyone else does. Macs cost more. But they also benefit from the aura of success that surrounds the iPhone and iPod. Windows 7 may cut into the momentum behind the Mac, but it alone is unlikely to reverse Apple's gains.