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Is upgrading to Vista worth the risk?

Category: Software Published on Monday, 02 March 2009

New operating system has 'issues' with older hardware, software

Scripps Howard News Service

It's fast. It's beautiful. But will it work on your PC? Maybe, and again, maybe not.

That's the dilemma hungry Microsoft Windows users face when trying to upgrade to Windows Vista, the new operating system from the Boys from Redmond.

Obviously, many of the issues confronting upgraders aren't Microsoft's problem, but there are two words missing from the company's new lexicon: backward and compatibility.

First of all, if there are any pieces of hardware that fall into the 24-, 16- or even (perish the thought) 8-bit category, you may as well kiss them goodbye.

The new operating system was designed to run on 32- or 64-bit systems, which means a lot of us will have to part with our favorite sound cards, video cards and other items we've been reluctant to replace as PCs --- and the programs and games that run on them --- have become more sophisticated.

In fact, a recent trial upgrade resulted in a long list of things that "may not run" after the upgrade, most of it being hardware-related (printers, audio converters, etc.), but some were software-specific (CD/DVD-burning software, for example).

A quick search of many of the hardware manufacturers' Web sites resulted in many Vista driver upgrades for a lot of the newer hardware, but the older items were shunned, earmarked for the outmoded junk heap.

So, what are our choices? Technically speaking, we have four:

  • Perform the Windows XP-to-Vista upgrade and hope that we can find drivers for our printers, scanners, etc., on the Net.
  • Back up all of your precious files (which you should be doing anyway) and do a "clean" install of Vista. Reinstall your favorite programs and try to find Vista drivers for your hardware on the Net.
  • Purchase a new PC and replace all of the offending hardware.
  • Stick with Windows XP.

Microsoft offers guidance as to Vista compatibility on its Web site and will even perform a check of your PC before you install the new operating system. A quick trip to will give you a chance to download the Windows Vista Advisor, which will analyze your PC. Also, Microsoft has posted a list of the most common compatibility issues at

The new operating system offers many great new features, including tougher security, great graphics and multimedia capabilities and an awesome interface. But look before you leap and spend the extra bucks for something you can't, or may not want to, use.

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