Walt Mossberg

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Copying Files From XP to Windows 7

There’s no other major item most of us own that is as confusing, unpredictable and unreliable as our personal computers. Everybody has questions about them, and we aim to help.

Here are a few questions about computers I’ve received recently from people like you, and my answers. I have edited and restated the questions a bit, for readability.

A friend’s Windows XP PC is having troubles. He wants to copy its contents onto a separate backup drive. Will he encounter problems if he tries to transfer this material to a Windows 7 unit he plans to buy when available?

He should have no problem at all with the data files, such as Office documents, music or photos. However, it may not be possible to transfer the programs and settings without reinstalling them from the original disks or downloaded installation files. And he may also have to re-install any patches or updates to these programs. Microsoft plans some sort of system to make this process simpler than it might be, but I don’t yet know how it will work.

I am not a super techie but would like to view Internet videos from my computer, attached to my TV. What do you recommend? Is there a system or a product that would be best for my needs?

You very likely don’t need any special product, other than the right cables and, if need be, adapters, to connect your computer and your TV. This choice depends on the details of your computer’s graphics capabilities and output ports, and the input ports and capabilities of your TV. All of this is much easier if the PC and TV are relatively modern — say, two years old or less. But, whatever their age, you should visit a competent electronics store that sells cables, provide the staff with the details of the two products, and seek their specific advice.

With the rising popularity of the netbook, do you know, or expect, that Apple will come out with a netbook? I would be very interested in getting one.

I know of no such plans. In fact, Apple officials have said they have no interest in producing a netbook, which is a small, inexpensive laptop, and have disparaged the category. However, Apple is quite secretive, and sometimes enters categories it had previously laughed off. Also, there are persistent rumors that Apple is working on a flat, tablet-style computer — perhaps a much larger version of its iPod Touch pocket-size device. If these rumors prove true, such a tablet might compete with netbooks.

Our daughter has asked for nothing but a Nintendo DS game system for more than a year now. Her birthday’s in two weeks. She says she’d be happy with the cheaper DS Lite, but is it worth going with the new DSi for $40 more? Do you think the DS Lite will become obsolete, in terms of new games for it?

Obviously, this depends on your budget, and I don’t think there’ll never be another new game for the DS Lite. But if the $40 price difference isn’t an obstacle, I’d go with the DSi, because I assume that, over time, more and more games and other software will emerge that will run only on the higher-end model.

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

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