Bits & P.C.s: An upgrade in your future?

Do you currently have Windows 95 or Windows 98 installed on your computer? Does your server at work have Windows NT on it? If the answer to either of these questions is “yes,” then you may be headed for a major meltdown. Microsoft has discontinued the sales of these three products and will soon cease to offer support for them. Sales of Windows 95 were discontinued when Windows 98 was introduced and 98 were discontinued when Windows ME was introduced in 2000. Windows NT was no longer sold when Microsoft 2000 Server came out, which has now been replaced by 2003 Server. Even though the sales of these products was stopped when a new version was introduced, Microsoft has continued to offer driver updates and other patches, as the need would arise. Unfortunately, Microsoft has announced that they have stopped support for 95 and 98 and that support for NT would occur in the near future. When support is discontinued for an operating system such as Windows, other companies will also drop support for their programs running under that operating system. This means that the new camera or scanner may not function, or if you accidentally misplace a program disk, you may not be able to get a replacement. If your computer has one of these operating systems and everything is running fine, then you probably don’t need to worry about the support. If you are concerned, you may want to know what it’s going to cost to upgrade. For home users, it will be necessary to buy Windows XP Home edition for about $100. If you need to upgrade the office computers, you will probably want to go with XP Pro for $200. Your computer will need a minimum of 128 MB of RAM, 256 is better and 512 MB will really show an increase in performance. Depending on the type of memory you require, this may cost you an additional $50-$200. You will also need (at the minimum) an additional 1.5 GB of hard drive space, a CPU that runs at greater than 233 MHz, and a monitor that can display at least 800×600. In reality, a Pentium II or III of 500 MHz or better is necessary to have a useable computer. If you do the upgrade, the program will overwrite your old version on Windows, though it will give you the option to save the old settings if you want to uninstall XP. After you do the upgrade, you may find that some of your old programs will no longer work. Some of these problems can be corrected by running in a “compatibility” mode, while others will require you to update the application. You may also find that scanners and cameras may also require a driver upgrade, or worse yet, may require you to buy a new product. The only good thing about this is that the products have become cheaper and offer more features. The pricing for Windows 2003 Server starts at $1,000 with a five-user license. The requirements and upgrade problems are much the same as XP, which isn’t surprising, since they are based on the technology behind Windows 2000. Richard Heller is an independent computer specialist who specializes in repairs, installation, upgrades, technical support, Internet sharing, data recovery and diagnostics. If you have any computer or service-related questions, please send them to The Rock River Times, e-mail, or call 243-1162.

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