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Windows 7 Minimum Requirements

Microsoft has been disclosing only minimum system requirements for Windows 7. In the past, they offered both minimum and higher “recommended” system requirements. There was a big difference between the two. Are you aware of a set of recommended system requirements for Windows 7?

Microsoft tells me they don’t plan to issue a “recommended” hardware configuration for Windows 7, because the company believes there are too many varied uses to cover, and that any such statement would be too complex. The company also claims its minimum requirements have proved “generous” enough to cover most cases during the year of widespread testing of pre-release versions.

The minimum required hardware for Windows 7 is as follows: a 1 gigahertz or faster 32-bit or 64-bit processor; 1 gigabyte of memory for the 32-bit version of Windows 7 or 2 GB for the 64-bit version; and 16 GB of available hard disk space for 32-bit or 20 GB for 64-bit. In addition, Windows 7 will require a graphics card or integrated graphics chip that is compatible with at least Microsoft’s DirectX 9 graphics system and at least the 1.0 version of its graphics driver standard called WDDM (Windows Display Driver Model).

More details are at: windows.microsoft.com/systemrequirements. I would suggest at least doubling the memory Microsoft recommends, not because I believe the company is lying, but to give yourself some headroom as your needs and interests grow.

I have used Mac laptops for the past 15 years, and am in the market for a new machine. When it comes to computers, I’m not “the sharpest knife in the drawer,” and I only use my laptop for very simple, basic tasks. What new laptop would you recommend? I do not desire or need exceptional file storage, graphic capability or any other esoteric spec.

You could get a cheap, small Windows laptop called a netbook, which would meet your simple needs. Acer, Asus, Lenovo and others make good ones. But I’m not sure that’s the best choice for you, given your self-description. If you’re a longtime Mac user, and you are used to the Mac, I’d suggest you consider sticking with it, because any netbook would require you to learn a new operating system and new software, even for simple tasks. Mac laptops are excellent machines, with a great operating system and built-in software. The only negative is cost, which you didn’t mention as a criterion. Apple doesn’t make bargain laptops. The cheapest Mac laptop, at $999, costs about triple what you could pay for a netbook.

I would like to change my Internet Service Provider (ISP), but fear doing so, since the task of informing all my email contacts of the new address seems grossly laborious. Are you aware of any utility available that will perform this task accurately?

The only one I ever tested is called TrueSwitch, and is available at trueswitch.com. It is a service that copies all your email, address books, calendar entries and bookmarks from the old ISP to the new one; notifies everyone in your address book of your new email address; and even forwards email from your old address to your new one for 30 days. It costs $20, but is free if you are switching to certain services, including Yahoo or Comcast.

One caveat: My test of TrueSwitch occurred five years ago, and, while it worked well then, I can’t be certain that it still does.

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

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