Upgrade to WinXP or Win7?

Question /opinion for computer Dopers. Here’s the deal: I’ve been running Win2000 at home. It worked fine for what I need (web browsing, word processing, CD ripping, occasional spreadsheet, a few games), and I didn’t have to spend bucks at newegg upgrading everything, leaving more money for beer and por^X^X^X kitchen remodeling funds.

But sadly, some software has stopped supporting Win2K, so I’m going to have to upgrade. I can get a minor deal on Windows 7, or find a used copy of WinXP. Here’s where the SDMB hive-mind input comes in: Is there any reason not to go right for W7? Would I need more than the current 1MB of memory? (For that matter, would W7 sneer at the five-year old CPU and stage a job-site-slowdown in protest?)

Would XP be any better as far as being happy with the Bush-Administration-era hardware? And finally, I’ve glanced at Craigslist for WinXP, and most of the ads are selling OEM Dell disks (w/keys). Is the Dell XP version customized enough that I want no part of it on my generic system?

[No need to sell me on Linux. Had I a few spare weekends to learn it, and then another few spare weekends to learn how to get my little games running on it, and another spare weekend to iron out file compatibility isssues, I’d be on it like a banker on a bonus, and revelling in that sweet, sweet command line power. But I don’t, so the MS-independence project is on hold for now]

You should check the system requirements for W7 (or XP for that matter) or run the upgrade advisor to see if your machine will run it comfortably. Be aware that the minimum requirements are truly minimum and may not give acceptable performance. (1 MB of memory? That’s a typo, right?)

The Dell OEM version is probably specific to particular Dell systems and has customizations for drivers or whatnot. Functionality should all be the same, though. I thought Dell used system restore disks rather than providing an OS install disk. It might work. Might not.

XP or W7 will both do everything you list, but you need to check your specific programs to see if they work with W7. Generally speaking, you’ll have a lot less compatibility problems going to XP than W7. On the other hand, everything new is going towards W7 so you are better off in the long run making the jump now. Otherwise you’ll be right back here when XP support gets dropped.

Web browsing won’t be a problem. What program are you using for word processing? Office 2000 mostly works with W7 but there are some issues with some things. As far as I am aware, word and excel work ok but outlook will go wonky. Your CD ripper (which you may be able to just ditch and use what comes with W7) and games may be an issue. You’ll have to check for those specific programs.

XP won’t run on 1 MB of RAM so I’m assuming that you really meant 1 GB. In that case, you’ll be fine. W7’s requirements aren’t that harsh (unlike Vista) and W7 will generally run on almost any machine that will run XP. W7 uses more memory than XP, but 1 GB will be plenty. You can run an XP box on half of that. A five year old XPU will be down near the low end of what you would want to run W7 on, but it should be ok for what you are doing with it.

You kids with your MBs and GBs. When I was programming, we had 640K* and we liked it that way.

  • plus extended memory**
    ** and expanded memory

Anyway, yeah 1GB.
Sounds like the consensus is that W7 isn’t that much more of a resource hog than XP, so the only real reason to choose one over the other is application software compatibility?

Windows 7 is definitely more a hog than XP. As others suggested, check the requirements and realize that if you’re meeting only the minimum, it’s going to be slow.

I have Windows 7 on my new machine and really like it, but I’ve seen it running on some 6-year old machines, and it isn’t pretty.

I dont know. My son put the beta on his Netbook and it runs fine. Thats a atom cpu and 1 gig of ram. If it runs on that it should run on darn near anything.

Can you post your PC’s exact specifications?

I am posting this message with Windows 7 (Beta) and 1GB of RAM on a five year old laptop with a Pentium M processor (Dell D600). Technically, it doesn’t meet the minimum system requirements (the graphics aren’t DirectX 9). It boots up quicker than XP did, but it isn’t appreciably different in speed otherwise. I also am running Outlook 2003 without a problem. It ain’t Vista (thank goodness!).

If you have no other software or hardware compatibility issues, go for it. Another major benefit is that Win7 installs MUCH more quickly than XP. I don’t know if you can legally still get a hold of a Beta version (they remain unlocked for a few more months), but if so, you could try Win7 for free and see if you like it.

I should also note that I just ordered a new laptop (left Shanghai over the weekend, currently enroute from Anchorage…).

If your computer can handle Windows 7, I would go with Windows 7. Unlike Vista, Windows 7 handles low memory issues much more gracefully.

The main reason is malware protection. Starting in Vista, Microsoft made a lot of changes in the way Windows handles security. Internet Explorer is no longer a privilege task that’s built into the kernel. Much of IE was removed from the kernel. Microsoft originally integrated IE into the Windows kernel, so they could argue that IE is part of Windows and if you remove it, the whole computer would break. However, doing so made browsing quite dangerous.

Windows 7, like Vista, loads system libraries into random places in memory. In Windows XP, if you found a particular security hole in a particular Windows library, the chances were good that you knew where this bug exists in the memory of every other computer running Windows XP. By shuffling around the system libraries in memory, they make certain security holes harder to exploit.

Windows XP practically expected you to run in administrator mode and most people did. That meant if a piece of malware could get you to run it, it would run in the administrator’s account and could do anything it wanted. In Windows 7, users don’t run in the administrative account. They might have the ability to become an administrator, but they have to gain administrative privileges in order to do some damage. That makes it much more difficult for a piece of malware to do real damage.

I also think Windows 7 changed a lot of problems with Windows XP. For example, in Windows XP, joining a wireless network takes a lot of effort. In Windows 7, it can be done with a single click.

Theres no good reason to keep something as old as XP. 7 has some pretty big advantages like the UAC, directx10, better UI, etc.

I tested the RC for win7 on a 6-7 year old laptop with 1gig of RAM. It ran just fine. I did not see much difference in speed from XP. Definitely ran faster than Vista.

XP will soon be on extended support and you’ll be sitting in front of a PC that wont let you play the newest games or run the newest software. Might as well nip that in the bud now and go with the current software.

DOS 6.2 would run faster.

HorseloverFat is correct in most situations, but you do need to consider how you use your computer. Windows 7 does require a little more memory and processor speed than XP. If you don’t run a lot of apps at the same time, you might be fine. As old_joe said, it can run fine on a basic netbook.

But say you have some older apps that won’t run on W7. It has a great feature (XP Mode) that allows you to easily run apps in an XP Virtual Machine, but now you have two OS’s running on the same hardware, which cuts the memory available for W7.

I do development on my machine, and I did notice things dragging more with an old machine on W7 than XP. But it depends on hardware - my new machine runs better with W7.

Compare your specs to the minimum requirements and think about how you use your system. If you aren’t sure whether you run memory- or processor-intensive apps, you probably don’t.

And I concur with everyone who recommends going to Windows 7 as long as the hardware supports it. XP would be just a stop-gap until you upgrade the hardware.

Can I get drivers for my high end NVidia cards for DOS 6.2?

Oh sure, but probably not for any higher resolution than 300x400.

Damn straight it would! And I’d have a real command line again. As soon as OpenOffice for DOS comes out, and someone releases a USB driver, I’m digging out my floppies and re-installing. (Assuming I can find a working floppy drive, that is…)
Anyway, sounds like the plan is grab the cheap copy of Win7, install, and see how it goes. If molasses ensues, then pony up for a 64-bit motherboard, CPU and the 16K expansion memory module. (Or say ‘screw it’ and dedicate a month to Linux)

You might find what you are looking for here

-Pro Dos Man TD