Walt Mossberg

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Mossberg’s Mailbox

Picking a Laptop With Vista Business

Here are a few questions I’ve received recently from people like you, and my answers. I have edited and restated the questions a bit, for readability. This week my mailbox contained questions about choosing between Windows Vista Business and Home Premium for a laptop, transferring Firefox bookmarks to a laptop from a desktop computer and making Word 2007 documents compatible with the 2003 version of Word.

I am shopping for a new laptop, and noticed that some of the models in which I am interested come with Windows Vista Business edition instead of Home Premium, which I understand is the main consumer version. What would I be missing if I went with the Business version instead?

The main thing Vista Business lacks that Home Premium includes is a series of multimedia features. These include Media Center, which allows you to play songs and videos, and view photos, from across a room. In addition, Home Premium offers Windows Movie Maker software for creating movies, DVD maker, and several games the Business version lacks.

On the other hand, the Business edition has some things Home Premium doesn’t, including built-in programs for doing a complete PC backup, for faxing and scanning, and for remotely running programs on another computer. For the most part, however, Vista Business looks and works like Home Premium.

I just bought a new laptop, and want to transfer to it the Firefox bookmarks I have on my old desktop. How can I do that?

There are a number of possible methods, but here’s a simple, straightforward approach.

First, you export the bookmarks from Firefox on your old desktop PC, which creates a single file containing the bookmarks. Then, you copy that file, which Firefox names by default “bookmarks.html,” to a CD or portable USB drive or some other medium you can use to transfer files between computers. Then, you copy the file to the new laptop. Finally, you import the file into the fresh copy of Firefox on the new laptop.

To carry out this process, you use Firefox’s import and export function for bookmarks. On the first computer, from the Firefox Bookmarks menu, choose “Organize bookmarks.” Then, once the bookmark window opens, go to the File menu and choose “Export.” That will create the bookmarks file. After the file is on the second computer, launch Firefox and repeat the process, only this time choose “Import,” and then click on “From File,” and select the file you brought over.

I have Word 2003 and have just started to receive Word 2007 documents, which I cannot open. What is the best solution?

Word 2007 has a new default file format, called DOCX, that is incompatible with older versions, which rely on the long-standing DOC format. The new version can be set to always save files in the old format, but not everyone knows that or chooses to do so.

However, folks such as you with the 2003 version of Word can install a free “Compatibility Pack” from Microsoft that will allow your copy of Word to read the new format. It can be obtained from the company’s Download Center, at www.microsoft.com/downloads. You’ll find it listed there under “Popular Downloads.”

You can find Mossberg’s Mailbox, and my other columns, online free at the new All Things Digital Web site, http://walt.allthingsd.com.

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