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Technology Untangled: Windows 7 provides compatibility with XP

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One of the problems with upgrading to a new computer every few years is that you often must upgrade to a new version of Windows. This time around, it's Windows 7. Last time was the quirky Windows Vista. Many businesses chose to hold on to the older but more familiar and stable Windows XP operating system, avoiding Vista altogether. Those older XP machines are probably now due for replacement. Thankfully, Microsoft has considered that large base of XP users and has provided an upgrade path that does not force you to completely abandon Windows XP and all its familiarity and good points.

Some versions of Windows 7 include the Windows XP Virtual Mode. This feature allows you to run older XP software on your new computer without being forced to upgrade to new Windows 7 versions. Or, as Microsoft puts it: "Windows XP Mode provides you with the flexibility to run many older Windows XP applications right from the Windows 7 desktop, helping to extend the life of your software library."

This was one of my gripes with Windows Vista. I had several applications that required new, Vista-compatible software packages. The older XP versions simply would not run properly. Additionally, I had several older pieces of hardware, a scanner and a printer, that did not have device driver software that was compatible with Vista. With XP Mode, I can once again use this equipment on the newest computer in the office.

The versions that provide for this XP Mode are, of course, the more expensive ones. Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate editions include the ability to operate your new computer as if it were an XP machine. Watch for these versions when computer shopping. Many off-theshelf computers come only with Windows 7 Home Premium, which does not include this feature. But, not to worry, you can buy or directly download an upgrade to Windows 7 Professional for about $90.

Once installed, Windows XP operates as a computer-within-a-computer. This means a fully functional version of XP Service Pack 3 runs in a separate window on the Windows 7 desktop. The graphics and interface inside the virtual XP computer are identical to the XP desktop you are already familiar with. You can access the DVD drive, load programs, save files, and do nearly everything you could with your old XP computer. There are a few caveats in the fine print about certain hardware devices and some graphicsintensive programs having compatibility issues, but I have had no problems yet. The fact is you really won't know if there are quirks until you try it.

The hardware requirements for running a virtual PC in XP Mode are substantial, but almost any new computer should make the cut. I would recommend a CPU with an Intel quad core processor. Any new computer that comes pre-installed with Windows 7 Professional should work. If you are upgrading to Professional from a computer with Home Premium, then double-check that you meet the hardware requirements by running the "Hardware-Assisted Virtualization Detection Tool" found at microsoft.com.

The reason that a powerful quad processor is necessary is because you are essentially going to carve out one-quarter of its computing power to run the XP virtual machine. The geeky-est thing you might have to do is change a computer setting to advise your motherboard to allow this processor sharing. This is all well documented at the Windows XP Mode Help pages at microsoft.com.

One immediate benefit I gained by using XP mode was the ability to continue using an older version of Adobe Acrobat, Acrobat 7.0. Windows 7 requires the use of Acrobat 9.0. While Acrobat 9.0 does have some attractive features, and I will eventually want to upgrade, I was able to set aside the need to purchase that newest version by running with my computer-in-a-computer.

Windows 7 with the Windows XP Mode and Virtual PC provides you with the best of both worlds. You get the newest computer hardware and operating system plus your old familiar operating system; you can continue to work with your existing XP software packages and only upgrade to newer versions when and if you are ready. You can continue working with the familiar XP desktop and interface while you transition to the Windows 7 interface at your own pace.

In the long run, Microsoft obviously hopes that you will get comfortable with Windows 7 and appreciate all the improved features it has to offer, eventually abandoning Windows XP. But for once at least the upgrade to a new operating system doesn't come with the arm-twisting typical of the forced change-over to a "new and improved" operating system, whether you wanted to or not. Maybe Microsoft got it right this time. Buying a new computer/operating system perhaps is now not as daunting a task as it was previously.

Stephen Bour (bourtech@iquest.net) is an engineer and legal technology consultant in Indianapolis. His company, the Alliance for Litigation Support Inc., includes Bour Technical Services and Alliance Court Reporting. The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author.

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  1. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  2. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

  3. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

  4. Have been seeing this wonderful physician for a few years and was one of his patients who told him about what we were being told at CVS. Multiple ones. This was a witch hunt and they shold be ashamed of how patients were treated. Most of all, CVS should be ashamed for what they put this physician through. So thankful he fought back. His office is no "pill mill'. He does drug testing multiple times a year and sees patients a minimum of four times a year.

  5. Brian W, I fear I have not been sufficiently entertaining to bring you back. Here is a real laugh track that just might do it. When one is grabbed by the scruff of his worldview and made to choose between his Confession and his profession ... it is a not a hard choice, given the Confession affects eternity. But then comes the hardship in this world. Imagine how often I hear taunts like yours ... "what, you could not even pass character and fitness after they let you sit and pass their bar exam ... dude, there must really be something wrong with you!" Even one of the Bishop's foremost courtiers said that, when explaining why the RCC refused to stand with me. You want entertaining? How about watching your personal economy crash while you have a wife and five kids to clothe and feed. And you can't because you cannot work, because those demanding you cast off your Confession to be allowed into "their" profession have all the control. And you know that they are wrong, dead wrong, and that even the professional code itself allows your Faithful stand, to wit: "A lawyer may refuse to comply with an obligation imposed by law upon a good faith belief that no valid obligation exists. The provisions of Rule 1.2(d) concerning a good faith challenge to the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law apply to challenges of legal regulation of the practice of law." YET YOU ARE A NONPERSON before the BLE, and will not be heard on your rights or their duties to the law -- you are under tyranny, not law. And so they win in this world, you lose, and you lose even your belief in the rule of law, and demoralization joins poverty, and very troubling thoughts impeaching self worth rush in to fill the void where your career once lived. Thoughts you did not think possible. You find yourself a failure ... in your profession, in your support of your family, in the mirror. And there is little to keep hope alive, because tyranny rules so firmly and none, not the church, not the NGO's, none truly give a damn. Not even a new court, who pay such lip service to justice and ancient role models. You want entertainment? Well if you are on the side of the courtiers running the system that has crushed me, as I suspect you are, then Orwell must be a real riot: "There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever." I never thought they would win, I always thought that at the end of the day the rule of law would prevail. Yes, the rule of man's law. Instead power prevailed, so many rules broken by the system to break me. It took years, but, finally, the end that Dr Bowman predicted is upon me, the end that she advised the BLE to take to break me. Ironically, that is the one thing in her far left of center report that the BLE (after stamping, in red ink, on Jan 22) is uninterested in, as that the BLE and ADA office that used the federal statute as a sword now refuses to even dialogue on her dire prediction as to my fate. "C'est la vie" Entertaining enough for you, status quo defender?

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