Should You Stick With XP/Office 2003 or Upgrade To Vista/Office 2007?


My office needs to buy new, more powerful computers, and we’re undecided on whether to stick with XP/Office 2003 or upgrade to Vista/Office 2007. The staff is split on the issue: Some argue we should upgrade so we’re not left behind as technology moves forward; others insist we should stay with XP because it works well, everyone knows how to use it, it’s bug-free, and it’s compatible with all the third-party applications we use. What are your thoughts?

You’re not alone in wrestling with that question. Vista was not well-received initially by the business community. Many early adopters complained that it’s slow and hard to use (compared with XP), too often incompatible with third-party applications and generally buggy. In fact, the incompatibility and bug problems have been pretty much resolved, and its speed can be improved dramatically by adding more memory and installing the 64-bit version of Vista rather than the 32-bit version.

And, yes, Vista can be a bit awkward to use at first, but, frankly, that complaint can be overcome simply by a change in user attitude: Many of us have become so accustomed to the efficient Office 2003 operation that we’re hesitant to move out of that comfort zone and switch to something new—even when it’s more powerful.

You need to resolve the following issues: Are you willing to move out of that comfort zone? Do you need that extra power now, or can you wait for the next upgrade?

Microsoft is already working on its next Windows iteration, code named Windows 7, which it plans to introduce in 2010. It probably won’t be a major upgrade from today’s Vista; at best, it will be an improved system: faster and more stable.

If you’re still undecided, you might want to consider another option: Load both XP and Vista on your new computers. By doing that, you can opt to boot up either one and take your time getting used to the upgrade. However, it’s probably not a do-it-yourself project (unless you’re really handy), but if you opt to do it, play it safe and back up all your data before you undertake the task. Be aware that, when you install Vista, which needs to be in its own hard-drive partition, select the Custom option. This gives you the choice of creating or deleting partitions—but not resizing them. So if you need to resize an existing partition to make room for Vista, you’ll need a partitioning utility such as Partition Logic, which is free. You can find it by googling Partition Logic.


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