Walt Mossberg

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Snow Leopard, Windows 7 and Netbooks

Am I correct that my iMac G5 can’t use Apple’s new Snow Leopard operating system? And, if so, why isn’t this just as bad as Microsoft’s making it hard for Windows XP users to upgrade to its new Windows 7 operating system?

Yes, you are correct. Snow Leopard is the first Apple OS version that runs only on Intel-powered Macs, and your iMac runs on the G5 processor, which isn’t an Intel chip.

As for the comparison with Microsoft’s policy: In one way, Apple’s approach is much worse. It is totally cutting off some of its user base from the new OS, including some folks with machines as little as 3 years old. Microsoft isn’t making it impossible for XP owners to move to Windows 7— it’s merely making it so painful, tedious and complicated to upgrade that many non-techies who want Windows 7 may give up and feel compelled to buy new PCs. On the other hand, Apple’s policy affects a smaller proportion of its customers. Only about 20% of its users still use older, non-Intel-based Macs. By contrast, Microsoft’s policy affects a much greater percentage of Windows users, since, despite its advanced age, Windows XP is still the most commonly used version of its OS.

A few years ago Microsoft used a code name of Longhorn for the operating system which ultimately was released as “Vista.” Will Windows 7 have a real name upon release?

The real name of Windows 7 is: Windows 7. It’s not a temporary code name, like “Longhorn” was. The product will be officially called Windows 7 when it comes out on Oct. 22.

Is it possible to connect a netbook directly to a larger PC to transfer data? The data I am interested in would be Word documents, Excel files, a limited number of photos and music files, and other personal files.

While I haven’t tested it, I assume that, since a netbook is just a small, cheap, standard Windows laptop, you could use Microsoft’s built-in file-transfer utilities to accomplish this, provided you use the right cable. In Windows XP, the operating system on most netbooks and most other PCs in use, this is called the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard. In Vista, and the forthcoming Windows 7, it’s called Windows Easy Transfer.

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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