Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Save your old laptops! Try Windows 7!

It’s back to school here in the Philippines and I was helping my brother prep up his laptop for college. It’s a relatively old laptop, a Compaq Presario V2000 (V2602TN), that we got around 2006. I say old because of the original specifications below.

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PROCESSOR: Intel Duo Core T2300 1.66GHZ
MEMORY: 1.5 GB DDR 2
HARD DRIVE: 60 GB 5400 rpm
Graphics: Mobile Intel 945GM Express Chipset


At the rate technology is evolving, PCs get outdated so quickly. Sometimes it seems like you need to upgrade your PC every year just to keep it running fast. In the line of work my husband and I do, our laptops have to have RAM upgrades practically every year. And once our laptops reach the maximum allowed RAM, we end up looking for newer alternatives.

Today, the netbooks are the current rave. More and more people are picking up these netbooks because its technically cheaper but it can run the applications that most people use (i.e. Word Processing, Internet surfing). Not to mention, these netbooks are smaller and easier to carry compared to traditional laptops. These netbooks are quite underpowered and will have a difficult time running Windows Vista, which is why most people opted to use Windows XP or some Linux variant for these netbooks.

I’m not writing this article to compare Operating Systems (i.e. Windows vs Mac vs Linux) and tell you which is better. Personally, I like Windows Vista and I’ve always been an ‘I’m a PC’ person. I don’t have a Mac and my Linux experience is limited to running it as a server and not as a client. So the best comparison I can provide is something between Windows Vista and Windows 7. I’m running Windows Vista Ultimate on my laptop, a 32 bit desktop PC and a 64 bit desktop PC. But most people felt that Vista was quite unstable and slow compared to Windows XP. So a good number of people didn’t bother to upgrade their PCs anymore to Vista and just kept their old machines with Windows XP running on it.

With the current trend going to netbooks as well as the issues people had with Windows Vista, Microsoft decided to offer Windows 7 which is said to have been tailor fitted to run in underpowered netbooks. And the response from the public beta, it seems like MS has actually hit their target this time with a lot of people satisfied with the performance of the Windows 7 beta release. I understand there are issues with the beta and the release candidate, I have experienced them myself, but most solutions are available online. Windows Update for Windows Vista is pretty good as well. While there are issues with the public releases, one has to understand that these releases are all demos and not the final product.

However there is one thing that Windows 7 proved to fulfill. And its making old hardware feel new again.

Prior to installing Windows 7, I had Windows Vista Ultimate running on the old Compaq Presario V2000 with the above specifications. While Vista was usable with 1.5 GB of RAM, the laptop ran pretty slow compared to high powered machines. Getting Office 2007 and other word processors took quite some time to load as well. There are times that even File Explorer had some strange loading times. Add any kind of antivirus or network monitoring system, the speed of the machine gets even slower.

We have installed Windows 7 with our newer machines but never on an older underpowered machine. I was a little apprehensive at first but I eventually joined the ranks of people who are quite impressed with this new operating system. I had one issue with the sound driver but I just uninstalled the HP driver and just let Windows Update get the latest driver through Auto Update. After that, everything worked like a charm. To my surprise, the machine booted quickly and it loaded my apps faster than Windows Vista. Office 2007 had no problem running and was quick to load.

Windows 7 is more than giving your PC a facelift. Sure the interface looks great, IMHO better than Vista because it takes out the clutter in the task bar and organizes it per application rather than having a new button / tab for every instance of an application. It’s actually more than being looking good but making your PC perform better.

What compelled me to write this article is when I saw how much that old laptop was selling in one of the top PC sites in the Philippines which is around Php 10,000 (roughly USD 200). That’s 50% less than what the netbooks are selling for. Imagine that…you can get a cheap laptop (with specs that may not really match the latest hardware within the last 12 months) but with Windows 7, it can come close to the performance of a mid-range laptop!

If you have a laptop that you are thinking of selling because its old (and trust me selling it second hand won’t give you a good price and you’ll end up annoyed with all the low ballers), maybe you can hold it for a while and download the Windows 7 RC 1 absolutely FREE here:

http://www.microsoft.com/windows7

Be sure to get yourself a FREE activation key as well. And if you want to join in the troubleshooting for Windows 7, you will need to activate your RC 1 after installation. But note, the RC1 will only run up to June 2010. After that, the RC 1 OS will no longer be able to run and file recovery might be an issue.

So what are you waiting for? Dig out those old PCs / Laptops that you haven’t used in a while and breathe new life into it with Windows 7!

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