Wait! Don't Buy Microsoft Windows Vista

5. Windows XP Isn't Obsolete

Vista adds new benefits and, in the long run, will make computing easier, faster, and a lot more fun. But it doesn't really solve any existing problem. Windows XP--after years of service patches and strong, industrywide support--is a solid, well-understood, and highly functional operating system. And it will continue to be well supported. Microsoft itself has committed to at least seven more years of XP support, and even plans a Service Pack 3 next year.

Gartner says that by the end of this year, XP will be installed on 77.1 percent of all PCs worldwide, and Vista on just 12.3 percent. That means the industry will make sure their new products still work great on XP.

6. Vista May be the Best Reason Yet to Buy a Mac

That's right. I said it.

Years ago, switching from Windows to a Mac was nearly impossible for most people. We relied entirely on desktop applications, many of which had no equivalents on the Mac platform. Today, so much of what we do is online--and Apple has done such a good job of making the transition easier--that leaving Windows and moving to a Mac is perfectly doable for most people. It's a real choice now, and mostly a matter of preference.

With Windows Vista as the default operating system on any new PC you buy, it makes sense to consider moving to a Mac. After all, Vista will force you to learn a new operating system anyway, and--in the short term--one less supported than XP. In either case, you'll be using a 3D interface, widgets, and other goodies.

Apple will start selling the next version of OS X, code-named Leopard, this spring. The details of this operating system are secret, but it's likely that it will be spectacular. All may be revealed as soon as next month. If you're going to buy a new PC this spring, you might as well check out Leopard before making your choice.

Under what circumstances should you switch to a Mac? Apple fans will tell you that the answer is obvious: If you want your system to crash less and run with fewer hassles and fewer security breaches, then buy a Mac. But that's the Mac user's world view.

If you're looking to make that decision from a PC user's world view, here's a more practical checklist.

Consider switching to a Mac if:

  • You're not into PC gaming.
  • You don't have any Windows-only applications you'd still like to run without emulation.
  • You don't have a major PC hardware investment--such as expensive flat-screen LCD displays--to take advantage of.
  • You don't have non-Mac applications that are required by your employer for working at home.

Most Windows users won't make that choice, however. For most of us, resistance is futile--and unnecessary and undesirable. Windows Vista is a truly great version of Windows with enormous benefits and will be a lot of fun to use.

LeBron James will tell you that upgrading to Windows Vista is a slam dunk. But before you upgrade the hard way--and on the wrong hardware and before the industry is fully ready to support it--take a moment and consider: What's the rush?

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