Lottery Post Journal

Planning on buying a new PC? Read this important info!

When you buy a PC, the one thing you always try to do is to buy something that will last for several years and won't be quickly outdated.  The last thing anyone wants is to buy a new PC, only to find that it is useless in a couple years.

With that in mind, I read an article today about picking the the type of CPU (Central Processing Unit, or microprocessor) in your new PC to be sure it is future-proof.  (Some people refer to the CPU as the computer's "brain", but I personally hate that analogy.)

Microsoft is currently putting the finishing touches on it's latest operating system, called Windows 7.  It is the successor to Windows Vista, and I think you'll find that unlike Vista, Windows 7 is going to have a very good reception. 

I have personally been running Windows 7 on test machines for many months now, and I now have the Release Candidate running.  It is one solid operating system.  There are so many nice touches in there.

One of the nice touches that will be available in some versions of Windows 7 is Windows XP Mode.  I know this is going to be a very popular feature.

Windows XP Mode lets you run Windows XP applications right alongside new Windows 7 applications.  They even look like Windows XP programs, with the all-too-familiar blue window frame design that Windows XP uses.  You'll even get a Windows XP task bar at the bottom of the screen.  (This is, if you want it.)

But, here's the catch.  (And the reason for linking to the important article about CPUs in new computers.)

If you want to run Windows XP mode, your CPU must have a certain technology built-in, and when you buy a new PC it can be extremely difficult to tell if the CPU has it.

The technology is called "virtualization".  It is available in both Intel and AMD CPUs, but you need to be careful which model you're buying to be sure it has it.  In some cases, it seems there is little rhyme or reason as to why it is included or not included with a particular CPU.

The bottom line is that if you are buying a new PC, absolutely, positively, be sure it has virtualization built-in to the CPU.  The last thing you want is to find out that your new computer can't handle a very desirable feature a year or two down the road.

The article includes a full listing of all the current CPUs available, and points out which ones have virtualization.

Also, apart from the article, Windows 7 is almost certainly going to be officially released somewhere between August and October of this year.  If you're looking to buy a new PC this summer (or thereabouts), you may want to wait until the PC makers start coming out with their free Windows 7 upgrade offers, which tend to start about a month or so before the release of the new OS.

That's what they do every time a new Microsoft operating system is going to be released shortly.  It allows you to buy the buy with the assurance that when the new operating system is released, they will ship you the installation CD for free.

Here's the article about CPUs, and their support for virtualization.  Highly recommended reading!



Here's another very useful article, and is complementary to the other article linked above.  Microsoft has come out with their official minimum recommendations for Windows 7, which is great information to have at your disposal when shopping for a new PC.

By no means do I ever recommend getting the minimum specification.  But it does give you a good heads-up about how well your PC should perform, relative to the lowest PC running Windows 7.


  • Good stuff to know. Thanks Todd...!

    By MADDOG10, at 8:42 PM

  • Thanks for the heads-up Todd. I am in the market for a new PC and Laptop so I really appreciate this info!!!


    By NBey6, at 9:20 PM

  • Thanks to you I'm subscribing to ZDNet and saw that article today. Interesting info.

    By konane, at 9:26 PM

  • Check out these links-

    By Think, at 9:53 PM

  • Shame that they are still playing jokes on the PC user after all these years.

    By Kaptainess, at 6:51 AM

  • @Kaptainess - I'm afraid I have to agree with you on that one. It really bothers me when a technology company takes a product and purposely disables certain features just to create a lower-priced version of the product. It's an artificial -- and I think a bit under-handed -- way of creating a price structure, based purely on the needs of the marketing department.

    It's different than creating different chip speeds, which I think are legitimate differences in the chip. The substance the chips are created out of (silicon) does have varying degrees of "perfectness". Silicon is a natural product, and will have natural inconsistencies, so it's only natural that some chips will be better-equipped to handle higher speeds. They test all chips for higher speeds, and the ones that don't pass the rigorous tests are rated for lower speeds.

    But disabling features that the chip is designed to handle is just wrong-headed and dumb. If you read the article, you'll see they are starting to come around on the issue, and are even reversing their policy. Unfortunately, that itself is going to create a lot of confusion in the marketplace at this point.

    By Todd, at 7:05 AM

  • extreemly informative, thought i'd browse today for a new system, got vista/xp, but i still like to know what's out there. so true for me, always buying a new system every couple of years, thank u so much for the info!

    By ducksafloat, at 8:37 AM

  • Thanks ducks! Microsoft just announced this week that Windows 7 will officially launch to consumers in October, and Microsoft partners (like me!) will get the official release of Windows 7 (internally called a "Release to Manufacturing", or "RTM" release) by the end of July.

    That's great news, because Windows 7 is looking like a really great operating system, and I can't wait to get the official version installed.

    For consumers looking to buy a new computer, they may want to hold off just a little bit to wait for the computer companies to offer to free upgrades to Windows 7. And don't forget to verify that the computer can do the virtualization outline in this blog post! ;-)

    By Todd, at 9:52 AM

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