Every time Microsoft, developer of the most popular personal computer operating systems on the planet, comes up with a new version of Windows, computer users wrestle with the question of whether they should upgrade.

The answer, in short, is yes ... if it's time to buy a new computer, which will have Windows 7 preinstalled. But no, it doesn't make a lot of sense for most users to upgrade an existing computer from Windows Vista or Windows XP to Windows 7.

Despite Apple's compelling TV commercials, Windows 7 provides no compelling reason either to switch to the Apple Macintosh. This decision is largely independent of the operating system, mostly based on whether you can justify the Mac's cost premium.

There unquestionably are some positives about Windows 7.

Windows 7 is faster on the same hardware than Vista, though not faster than Windows XP running programs designed for XP. Searching for files is easier with Windows 7 than Vista or XP, as is networking. Security is better and less intrusive.

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Reid Goldsborough  |  Contributing Writer
Reid Goldsborough is a syndicated columnist and author of Straight Talk About the Information Superhighway. He can be reached at reidgold@comcast.net or www.reidgoldsborough.com.