Windows 7 – Upgrade or not?

As with the release of any new operating system from Microsoft, the inevitable questions begin. Hopefully, this article will answer those questions and more. At a basic level, Windows 7 is a new Operating System (that runs your computer), and Office 2007 is the productivity suite (Word, Excel, etc).  This article deals with Windows 7.

“When will the IT department be upgrading our Skidmore –owned computers to Windows 7?”

As a rule-of-thumb, the IT department NEVER upgrades operating systems on an existing, college-owned computer. Our normal means of getting everyone on a new operating system occurs over the course of our four year computer deployment. As we purchase each year’s new computers, we install the “newest” operating system that we are using. Please remember that the IT department does not allow Skidmore employees to upgrade Window 7 on any college-owned computers.

“Will our new Skidmore-owned computers be installed with Windows 7 in the future?”

Unless we encounter an unforeseen roadblock in our remaining testing, our current plan is to begin rolling out Windows 7 with this year’s deployment of new computers, which begins at the end of May. Those folks in Cohort A will be affected: Art; Art History; Biology; Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work; Campus Safety, Counseling Center; Greenberg Child Care; Health Services; Office Services; Post Office; and the Registrar’s Office.

“Didn’t we just get upgraded to Windows 7 (or was that Office 2007)?”

NO! The IT department has been upgrading the productivity suites Office 2007 (Windows) and Office 2008 (Mac). This is not the same as Windows 7 operating system and is an unrelated product.

“Is Windows 7 different than Windows XP? What about training?”

Windows 7 IS different than the Windows XP that many of you have been using over the last several years. The IT department will be providing basic Windows 7 training. You can check the schedule at:

“Should I upgrade my Windows XP home computer to Windows 7?”

The IT department strongly recommends that users NOT upgrade their Windows XP home computers to Windows 7. There are many reports, as well as personal experience, of computers that no longer function after upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 7. Many older computers might not have the drivers necessary to work in Windows 7, you might have hardware incompatibilities, and a fair amount of older software won’t work with Windows 7 either.

 “What about my home computer with Windows Vista on it? Can I upgrade that?”

Again, as a rule-of-thumb, the IT department NEVER upgrades operating systems. Our recommendation is that you should not upgrade. It’s always safest to purchase your computer with the latest operating system already installed.

“I know you recommend that I NOT upgrade my home computer, but I just HAVE to have Windows 7.”

If you decide not to heed the advice of the IT department, you do so at your own risk. That being said, our licensing arrangement with Microsoft does allow pre-qualified employees to purchase Windows 7 for their home computers at a discounted price. To begin the process of purchasing Windows 7you’re your home computer, please go to the e-Academy page ( and click on the link that reads, “Please click here to submit your request”.  If you qualify, you will be notified and will receive instructions on how to purchase Windows 7.

A few warnings for those who still wish to upgrade their HOME computers to Windows 7:

* Make sure you check your computer’s hardware and software compatibility before you try to upgrade:
* Make sure you back up all your important files prior to the upgrade (documents, pictures, music, etc.)
* Make sure you have the original software installation disks. You may have to re-install all of your software.

Tom Marcotte
IT User Services

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