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by JB Burke

Q. I have a 5-year old PC running Windows 7. I didn't upgrade to Windows 8.1 because I heard bad things about it. I want to get a new computer. Should I wait for Windows 10?

A. I'll answer your question in two parts. First, Widows 8.1 isn't as bad as you may have heard. It has a number of new features and some performance enhancements. And 8.1 can be made to look and act like Windows 7, but with better performance. You can install a small program that will do that for free – Classic Shell or for $5 – Start8. Personally I prefer Start8.

Secondly, Microsoft has announced a free upgrade to Windows 10 for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users during the first year after Windows 10 is released, rumored to be sometime in the summer of 2015. So here is what I would do. Shop around for whatever new computer you would like to get. Don't pay attention to whether it is pre-installed with Windows 7 or 8.1 (it will probably be 8.1). If you end up getting 8.1, install either Classic Shell or Start8 for the time being. Then you can enjoy the new computer, with its new performance and other enhancements compared to your old one, until Windows 10 is released. Then I'd wait a little while to see how Windows 10 is doing early on in terms of performance, reliability, etc. before taking that nice, free upgrade.

The Prescott Computer Society is closely tracking the breaking news about Windows 10, such as rumored release dates, new features, etc. We've been reporting on this at our meetings at the Prescott Public Library. You can get our schedule on the Home page of this website. You may attend some meetings free as a guest and membership is only $24 per year, pro-rated by the month you join. We generally have three 2-hour meetings per month, on a variety of topics. Think of it as PC training for just $0.33/hour.

Published: Courier 5/30/15 - Page 12A