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

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A genealogist's view of Windows 7 -- upgrade or not?

In teaching classes to genealogists I have found that they are mostly people who can be shocked by the high price of a software program costing $29.95. So it is unlikely that these same people who think that it is outrageous to actually pay for a genealogy database program, would be anxious to upgrade their operating system, especially when the retail price of Windows 7 runs from $50 for the Windows 7 Home upgrade to over $200 for the Windows 7 Ultimate version. Furthermore, if you upgrade from Windows XP you need to manually reinstall your programs after you install Windows 7, according to the instructions that come with the program. If you upgrade from older versions of Windows, such as 2000 or perish the thought, Windows 98, it is likely that you will have to upgrade some of your other software programs as well. Upgrading can be very time consuming and expensive.

Windows 7 is advertised as your PC simplified. Whatever that means. It is certainly not simple. I am installing the Windows 7 Ultimate version on an iMac using Parallels Desktop and I would characterize that process as anything but simple. Installing Parallels Desktop on the iMac is simplicity itself. It took about three minutes. Installing Windows 7 has taken me three days and I still do not have some major functions working. These problems are not issues with Parallels Desktop or the iMac, they seem to be purely Windows 7 issues.

In future posts, I will discuss how the various genealogy programs run on the iMac with Windows 7, but that is another day. Just for information sake, I have loaded Personal Ancestral File, RootsMagic 4, Ancestral Quest and Legacy 7. I did have extensive problems getting Legacy 7's Geographic Database to load but the other programs seem to load and to be functioning without problems.

First impressions are that Windows 7 is a remake of Windows Vista with some of the rough spots smoothed over. It also looks like Microsoft decided to try and copy a few Macintosh OS X features and not too successfully.

Out of the box, the program came with two disks, one for 64-bit software and another for 32-bit software. There is free telephone and online support, but nothing in the materials that come with the program tell you how or why you should install either 64-bit or 32-bit. I happen to know that the iMac is a 64-bit computer so I chose to install the 64-bit program. I guess I will figure out sometime in the future if that is a problem. Obviously, if you buy a new computer and it comes with Windows 7 you don't have to worry about this problem.

Installing the program took longer than I expected. Plus, as a bonus, once I got it loaded, every time the program starts, I get the standard old DOS based Windows warning that the program was not closed properly and asking if I want to start up in protected mode and other things. This reminds me that the apple never falls far from the tree.

OK, so far, I am not that impressed. It seems to have most of the Windows Vista problems with a few of its own. As to being faster, that is likely due to running the program on an iMac, which makes all of the programs run faster because of the speed of the processor. One of the features highlighted in the skimpy installation manual is the Windows Taskbar. I have yet to get that feature to operate consistently. So far, it appears and disappears randomly. The small manual shows you how to "pin" a program to the Taskbar, but doesn't tell you either why this is needed or any benefit from doing so.

At this point, and of course I might change my mind as I get further into this program, I would suggest waiting to upgrade from Windows XP until you find a really good reason to do so. As to upgrading from Windows Vista, why not? It might be better.

Obviously, more later.

1 comment:

  1. My question is this. As service missionaries for Family Search Support we were advised to not upgrade to Internet Explorer because of software issues. I have heard that some of the PAF programs have had issues with Windows 7. Will Windows 7 affect nFS?