Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Friday, November 6, 2009

Genealogist's view of Windows 7

I have been running Windows XP since shortly after its release. After reading many reviews, I elected not to upgrade my home computer to Windows Vista but some time ago, our office computers were all upgraded. So I have been running both Windows Vista and my older versions of Windows XP for a considerable time. During the past week, I have been working with Windows 7 installed on my iMac using Parallels Desktop. I feel that I have a pretty good level of experience with both Vista and XP to adequately compare them to Windows 7.

As a beginning statement, Windows 7 is still Windows. It is not radically different than either Windows XP or Vista. Since I was using a new install of the program to an essentially blank disk, I was spared the painful upgrade process from XP. To upgrade from Windows XP to 7, the user is urged to run Windows Upgrade Advisor to see whether there are software issues that might affect installation and whether to install the 32-bit or 64-bit version. The user is also told to back up all of their data to an external hard drive. You then save your files and settings to the external drive using Windows Easy Transfer. Both the Windows Upgrade Advisor and the Windows Easy Transfer are supposed to be downloaded from Microsoft's Website since they apparently do not come with the Windows 7 software package.

So before you even think about upgrading, you need, at the very least, external storage large enough to back up your entire data files and the two downloaded programs from Microsoft. this may mean a trip to a store and the purchase of a new hard drive. Next come the clincher, you will wipe your primary disk clean when you install Windows 7 and will have to re-install your programs. That is all of your programs. Good luck. Just hope that you still have all of the access keys and passwords necessary to re-install anything you actually need and that the programs will actuall work with Windows 7.

After installing Windows 7, the user is instructed to use Windows Easy Transfer to restore your files and settings but not your programs. If any of your programs just don't happen to be compatible with Windows 7, it is just too bad. No solution is offered for this inevitable problem.

The online discussion about Windows 7 appears to be uniformly favorable. As a matter of fact, the program runs quite well on my iMac. I have successfully installed Personal Ancestral File, Roots Magic 4, Ancestral Quest 12.1 and Animap without any issues at all. I finally got Legacy 7 to install with the Geo feature. It took several tries and I am not really sure the program is running correctly. I tried to install FamilyInsight but so far, I have not gotten the program to run at all. The FamilyInsight program will not find the data file nor will it properly open any of the PAF files I have on the Windows 7 program portion of the iMac disk.

One problem I can foresee about upgrading, is that there is an unspoken assumption from Microsoft that you can download the extra programs you need to complete your upgrade. However, that assumes you can get your upgraded computer to see your network and get online. This is not necessarily a valid assumption. I found in installing Windows 7 that it took me two days to figure out how to get the Windows 7 program to see the network so I could copy my files over to the computer. Granted, I may be asking for more complication by using Windows 7 on an iMac, but hey, what is life without challenges.

There will probably be a lot more to write about and I probably will. Stay tuned.

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