Help File: Is it worth it to upgrade to Windows 7?

By Rob Pegoraro
Saturday, October 30, 2010; 9:11 PM

Q: I have Windows Vista Home Premium on my laptop and it works fine. Is it really worthwhile to upgrade to Windows 7?

A: Before anybody accuses me of making up this question, I saw variations of it in consecutive Web chats. And I can see where it comes from: If you've managed to beat Vista into submission, why not quit while you're ahead - and save the $120 cost of a Windows 7 upgrade?

But as Microsoft upgrades go, the transition from Vista to 7 is pretty easy. I've yet to have any issues installing 7 on Vista machines. And a year after 7's debut, most readers seem happy with the switch, too.

There are reasons for that. Windows 7 uses less memory, provides better tools to navigate among open windows and through files and folders, and doesn't throw up those annoying "User Account Control" dialogue boxes as often. It also includes a more useful backup program.

You should still do your homework, though: Download Microsoft's free Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor from its site to get an evaluation of your hardware and software and advice on any updates needed.

Q: Why doesn't FaceTime work from my office?

A: Apple's video-conferencing software should work fine over most home and public wireless connections. But some office and school networks don't have the right networking ports open for the program. A note on Apple's site ( ht4245) explains the "port forwarding" settings. But on most office and school networks, users have no input on those settings.

- Rob Pegoraro

© 2010 The Washington Post Company