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Recommendations for new Computer Operating System?

Started by eaparks, April 05, 2013, 07:18:08 AM

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I've been using a 12 year old computer with Windows XP and due to the 1 Gb of RAM (max. amount installable), it is time for a new computer.  I'm not up to date on the newer OS, Windows 7 (which version) or Windows 8, and would like to see what some of you would get if you were in the market for a new PC. 

I value the opinoins of you guys on here and want to be able to continue to use and share maps with others here without complicating my map making or installations.



I've been pondering this too, ever since my old Dell Desktop refused to boot recently (re-seated memory chips and cleaned crud out CPU heatsink, then it worked again fortunately).

There is no question in my mind that I would get Windows 7 Pro. I can't see where Windows 8 would do anything but annoy me. Now I have a Slate 500 9" tablet with Win 7 Pro, and I've actually thought about updating that to Win 8, because Win 7 is not much fun on a tablet. Not sure how well it would work on this tablet though, so I probably won't bother.

Now I may a bit different from you however. I have always been a Mac user (since 1985 and Apple ][ before that). I only use Windows for mapping/GIS software and am not interested in managing media or running any "productivity software". I use the Mac for CAD, audio/video editing, e-mail, photoshop, etc.

So I just want my Windows machine to be fast and work well with Globalmapper, cgpsmapper, GPSMapedit, TypWiz, etc. I have never been a fan of the Windows user interface, but I'm used to it and Windows 7 offered some nice refinements.


Win7 - 64 works well with Global Mapper and 64 bit cgpsmapper.  Haven't seen any solid reports on Win 8, but I seem to recall NSIS DIY installers don't work well with it.

Indrid Cold

I have WIN7 Ultimate on several machines and just got WIN8 on a new laptop. WIN8 works fine, takes a little setting up but no problems here.

In fact, I'm planning on setting up a new workstation for WIN8 with a couple on monitors this summer to do GIS on. Need to let ARCGIS catch up, maybe v11


I would buy cheaper version ;)

If you buy PC with preinstalled Pro version of Windows, then you get downgrade rights:

You can buy PC with Windows 8 Pro and use Windows 7 Pro instead.

There are complains about new system menu in Windows 8. In my opinion this is mostly because people don't want to learn it. Since you are getting new OS, you will have to learn anyway and hopefully Windows 8 won't be more problematic than 7.


Many thanks everyone for the help! 

It appears I may be in a catch 22 situation due to some very old 32 bit programs I still occassionaly use.  Please let me know if my thinking is wrong:  to run these older 32 bit programs I'd need Windows 7 Pro 32 bit and would not be utilizing much RAM... more than 3 Gb.  Go to Window 7 Pro 64 bit or Window 8 and can't run my older 32 bit programs.

My thinking right now is go get away from my old tower PC and go with a 17" screen laptop, even for home use, that would be fairly fast.

If anyone has seen a good buy on what I may be interested please post links.  My search and being educated about the OS continues.



What programs do you think won't work? My Dell Inspiron is running Vista 64 and I've never had problems with 32 bit programs that I recall. There was a trivial issue with map installers on Win 7 64 (but not Vista 64). This just had to do with the use of different registry keys used by NSIS and was resolved by a change to the standard GPSFileDepot installer script.


Most of the programs I had on my WinXP machine (Microsoft Office, etc) work fine on Win7.  One I just had a problem with was an old copy of Sony Sound Forge that needed a module to burn CDs that wasn't furnished with Win7.


64 bits Windows won't run 16-bits programs, but I don't think it is necessary today. 32-bit programs are supported. You can have problems with some old hardware, when only 32-bit drivers are available. This could be for example old printer or scanner.

Interesting feature of Windows 7 Pro is XP Mode. Actually this is full Windows XP, which can be installed inside a virtual machine, as a Windows 7 program. If you have programs, that don't work in Windows 7, you can execute them in virtual XP.

Windows 8 probably doesn't include license for virtual XP, but you can install OS from your old PC using any free virtualization software.


Windows 8 is actually better...  It runs faster and uses less resources.  If you do not like the interface, that is all fixable with free programs.

If you do want to run 16 bit programs (DOS really), there are free easyish ways without running a virtual OS.


Quote from: Red90 on April 06, 2013, 08:16:02 AM
If you do want to run 16 bit programs (DOS really), there are free easyish ways without running a virtual OS.

I just started using DosBox to do that.  Is that the sort of thing you had in mind?


Thanks for all the information, everyone.   Talked to a lot of computer sales people this weekend, learning a lot.  I don't mind learning Windows 8 if it is better, just that whatever I get I'll be using for several years, so I want be sure I get what will suit my use of a PC the best.

I've pretty well refined my spec. list to 1 Tb hard drive, min. of 6 Gb RAM probably 8 Gb, if Intel an i5 or i7 processor... 2.5 Ghz or highter, but a bargain sale price could sway my wish list.  Now just to decide on Window7 or Windows 8.

Anyone have any other criteria they would look for or change?


I think you mean i5 or i7, not iIE5 or IE7.  ;)

Those sound like pretty good specs to me. The only thing I'll say however, is that I've really been spoiled by the 256gb SSD (solid state disk) on my MacBook Air. I don't think I'll ever buy another computer without one. They are rather expensive, but will make almost everything you do faster.

I think it would help a lot with the large files I use in GlobalMapper for example. Sometimes I run Globalmapper on my HP Slate 500 Windows tablet. It's a real dog in terms of CPU, but it has a SSD, and files open and save very quickly. So the experience is actually pretty good for simple viewing and editing of files.

I think my ideal setup for a new windows machine would be a 512GB SSD plus a larger spinning hard drive. If you're going to keep this for awhile you might want to think about it. Maybe you can find one in a store to try. That's what led me to get the MacBook Air, they had one right next to a MacBook Pro in the store. I tried various things side by side and was just blown away by the difference.


Boyd, Thanks for the suggestions.  Your right, I did mean i5 or i7.  The SSD drives do sound very nice, I was concerned that 256gb might not be large enough and at present the 512gb SSD is a little pricey.


I have SSD drives in my PC but I'm not impressed. Or maybe I'm already spoiled? Windows start faster, there is less waiting at first time program start, less situation when Windows looks stacked, but generally I haven't recognized SSD as important upgrade. But I think it is nice to have SDD for system drive (128MB or more) and big HDD for data.

What I would suggest is to buy a lot of memory. It is still cheap, probably there is no reason to buy less then 16GB as 2x8GB DIMMs, to leave room for future upgrade. With big memory Windows caches a lot of data and HDD speed is not so important.