Walt Mossberg

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Windows 7 Upgrades and Screen Readability

(See Corrections & Amplifications item below.)

I have a vision problem and can barely read low-contrast print, even the light colors on your Web site. Any ideas for how I and others can solve this problem? I use a Mac and the Firefox Web browser.

A: If your Mac is running the Leopard or Snow Leopard operating systems, you can use an onscreen slider control or keyboard commands to enhance the contrast. You can even switch the display to white-on-black, which really boosts the effect. This works system-wide. These settings are found in System Preferences, under the Universal Access preference, in the tab called “Seeing,” in the section called “Display.”

The new Windows 7 also has a similar feature that applies a “high contrast theme” when you press a certain key combination. It can be enabled or disabled in the Control Panel, under Ease of Access. You click on “Ease of Access Center,” and then “Make the computer easier to see.”

Where can I download the Windows 7 Home Premium upgrade edition for my Vista Home Premium computer?

A: Windows 7 can be downloaded at http://store.microsoft.com/home.aspx. And, after you’ve installed it, you can upgrade to higher versions anytime, if you like, for a fee. This is called the Windows Anytime Upgrade, and is explained at this site: http://bit.ly/VrV58.

Do you know if the new Windows 7 Home Premium will be offered at less than the retail price of $120 to current Vista PC owners who wish to upgrade?

A: That $120 price is the upgrade price for Vista owners moving to Windows 7 Home Premium, though of course some retailers might discount it. The “full,” or non-upgrade, edition of Home Premium lists for $200. Microsoft did run a sale on Windows 7 pre-orders earlier this year, but that’s over.

You can also get a Windows 7 upgrade from participating PC makers free, or for a nominal fee, if you buy a new PC equipped with Vista before the end of January, 2010, or bought one after June 26, 2009. For the latter offer, consult: http://bit.ly/rjAz4.

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

Corrections & Amplifications

An earlier version of this column erroneously stated that Windows 7 had to be purchased on a disk.

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