As a part-time student I can buy the academic versions of Microsoft Office 2010 Professional and Windows 7 Professional at a substantial discount to the RRP. Today I bought the Office 2010 download for AUD$99 (and an extra $14 to be sent the DVD in case I need to reinstall in the future). I haven't downloaded the installation file yet as it is around half a GB, which would use up 50% of my monthly 'peak period' broadband allowance - I'll start the download after midnight so it only consumes 25% of my 'off-peak' 2GB allowance.
I'm still deciding whether or not to upgrade from Vista Home Premium to Windows 7 Academic. I haven't had any problems with Vista (SP2 seems pretty stable), so the main advantage I can see from the upgrade to Windows 7 academic would be the automated backup tool which would simplify data file backups over the network (Vista Home Premium backup only allows file backups of music and video - proper automated data file backups require the Business version). However, at the moment I get bye OK with saving all my data files onto an external 0.5 TB USB HDD 'drive F' and copying all the files onto an identical 'drive G'. I have to run a manual copy of all the files from F to G every couple of weeks to ensure I haven't forgotten to write any files to both drives. Aside from being a manual process, it means that if drive F was corrupted, I might lose a few files. The Windows 7 Academic backup tool would make things easier and more fool-proof.
However, upgrading from Vista Home Premium to Academic version of Windows 7 requires a 'clean install' - so after doing the Windows upgrade I'd then have to reinstall all the existing apps. The process should be simple, but will waste a couple of hours (although I can do it during the TV ad breaks). A more serious concern is that some of the less mainstream apps (such as Robolab, CLEA virtual observatory, and the Meade DSI image processing apps) may not run properly under Windows 7 in 'XP mode'. On a more positive note, the new telescope control software I'm thinking of buying is available in Windows 7 version and should run better under the new OS.
I think I'll make a list of all my installed apps (on both my laptop and Desktop PCs) and google each one to check if it works OK under Windows 7 before I make a decision to buy the upgrade.
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