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Buying a PC With 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.

Best Buy is offering a free upgrade to Windows 7 if you purchase a machine today that has Vista. Is it better to wait to buy after the release of Windows 7?

A: I’d say so. If you buy a Vista machine now, you’ll likely have to spend at least some time and effort upgrading, and you may run into at least minor issues, which is something that sometimes happens even with straightforward upgrades. Since PCs preloaded with Windows 7 are only two weeks away, it’s worth the wait, unless you are in dire need of a new PC right away.

With the end of Microsoft Money, are there any good alternatives to Quicken? I tried Quicken Online, but it is just too limited.

A: I haven’t reviewed it, but a program called Moneydance might be worth checking out. It runs on Windows, Mac and Linux, and claims to import data from Money and Quicken. Moneydance costs $40, but there’s a free trial. Information and downloads are is at moneydance.com.

I read that upgrading to Windows 7 deactivates the license key for any prior version of Windows, ruling out any chance of reversing the upgrade if it doesn’t work out for some reason.Is this true? If I am going to take the plunge into Windows 7, I want to make sure I can always go back if I’m unhappy.

A: Microsoft says that’s false. The company emailed me to say: “The upgrade process does not deactivate the product key for the previous version of Windows. If you need to uninstall Windows 7 and go back to your previous version of Windows, you can activate it using the original product key.”

You can find Mossberg’s Mailbox and my other columns at http://walt.allthingsd.com.

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