New Laptop - which flavour of Windows? (and other issues)

I'm in the market for a new laptop computer. I need to have access to the same software and data files at two different locations, and have decided that a single laptop is preferable to maintaining two lots of hardware and trying to keep them in synch.
Much as I would like to get away from the clutches of Microsoft, I *need* Windows because I've got lots of software which won't run on anything else.
My current - rather elderly - laptop is running Win XP Home Sp3 and lots of essential applications - many of which came free with various PC magazines, and would cost a fortune to replace or upgrade - so my 'new' laptop needs to be able to run all of these. I've also got a number of USB devices - printers, scanners, MIDI interfaces, etc. - which need to work with the new laptop.
Most new laptops seem to come with Windows 7 - and I'm hearing comments suggesting that elderly software applications (e.g. Quicken 98, Design CAD 3000, etc.) which work perfectly well under XP may refuse to work under 7. Is this likely? Is there a solution? Would I also need new drivers for all my USB-based devices?
Would I be any better off with Vista (which I've so far managed to avoid!) or would I face the same issues as with 7? [One or two half-way-decent-looking 'refurb' laptops are seemingly still available with Vista].
How easy is it to 'downgrade' a Vista or Win7 PC to XP - and would that solve my problems? [I have a valid XP-Home licence from a PC which I scrapped - and some original (may just be SP1) media - but not the latest version.]
Other Issues: How the heck do you backup and restore systems which no longer have floppy drives? In my current setup, I have Norton Ghost 2003 which needs to boot into DOS from a floppy - and can then clone a drive or partition to another internal or external (or network) drive. It doesn't provide the option of creating a bootable CD. Come to think of it, I'm not at all sure that it would recognise SATA disks! I get the impression that later versions of Ghost can backup the system disk while Windows is actually running. Is this correct? Also, they seem to come with a bootable 'recovery' CD from which to boot in order to restore a backup. Does this work ok? Is so, it looks like I'm going to have to invest in the latest version of Ghost!
Your comments - particularly regarding the best choice of OS for my particular circumstances - will be greatly appreciated.
--
Cheers,
Roger
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It's possible, yes. Some might work under the compatibility options in Win 7. Some may just never work.

Depends. Some will just work under Win 7 (probably). Some might have new drivers available. Some won't. It's all a bit hit and miss.

No, no one is *ever* better off with Vista IMO.

Yes, but with less chance of being able to fix them. Win 7 is largely Vista but fixed. It's far from perfect but a whole lot better than Vista.

Getting harder and harder particuarly for laptops. We have plenty of laptops here that just won't run properly with XP as there are no drivers available for the hardware.

This isn't really my area, but running an image of your old XP machine under a virtual environment is a possible option if your new laptop is powerful enough. VMware (can't remember what the free version is) or the Sun^WOracle Virtualbox might be worth a look. You'd need something that offers the physical to virtual migration tools. Get a laptop with decent amount of RAM and if your existing machine isn't huge it might just work.
I have an XP, a Solaris and a Win 7 VM on my macbook and it works fine under VMware for what I need.

I'm writing this as a Solaris and MacOS user - but windows 7 is much better than Vista. As for XP on new hardware - it's getting harder and harder.
Darren
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FWIW, I run Windows XP, Solaris, Ubuntu(*) and Plan9(+) under VirtualBox under Ubuntu.
(* Playing with new versions.) (+ Very slowly. But it runs.)
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downy sins of streetlight fancies
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Huge wrote:

I'm running XP in virtual box here.Native Debian.
If windos gets borked, revert to snapshot and as long as the DATA is on the main machine not inside windows, windows is up and freshly installed in 30 seconds!
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[...]

Out of interest, what do you run Plan9 for?
Thanks J^n
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On 12/03/2010 15:12, D.M.Chapman wrote:

Generally agree with you Darren.
For compatibility, you might need to stick to the 32-bit version of W7.
Do remember that with W7 Pro you get a full copy of XP as a virtual machine in with W7 itself. (You might have to download it, but you are immediately licensed for that virtual copy of XP.) Make sure you have plenty of memory and processor power if you wish to use virtual machines.
Another option might be to leave your main computer (of whatever sort) at one location and use another to remotely access it - whether using LogMeIn, RDP, VNC or something else to do so. It could leave you free to get a lightweight (physically and in terms of performance) laptop to take with you. And no need to sync as everything is really on the main computer. WIth Wake-on-LAN facilities the remote machine doesn't even have to be running all the time. Might be totally useless to you, but a thought.
Indeed, if you have some things that won't run any other way, you could remote access your current computer.
--
Rod

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On 12/03/2010 15:49, Rod wrote:

I have just gone from XP SP3 on my old PC to Windows 7 64 bit on my new one. Only had problem was with Alk co-pilot 7 which apparently is not and will not be supported for Windows 7 64. I eventually googled enough to find a workaround via a registry hack. What I do find aggravating are the pop-up thumbnails from the taskbar. I haven't managed to find a way to turn them off but have now set the delay until they appear to 20000 (milli seconds). Also disabled one of the security options in IE (which I very rarely use) to save me having to override warnings every time I open digiguide from a link in the taskbar. One day I will find time to take a look at ubuntu but for the moment I find windows 7 stable and quite good. Just a battle to do things my way instead of how ms think everyone should do things. I have got an overclocked core 7 cpu and 6gb of ram which probably helps.
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In an earlier contribution to this discussion, Rod

Can you run USB-connected physical devices in a VM, or only software applications? I'm thinking of things like my Midiman Uno MIDI interface, for which there doesn't appear to be a W7 driver.

That would presumably require a fairly fast internet connection at both ends? At my main location, I have wired BB with a D/L speed of about 2Mbps (U/L much slower) and at the other location, I'm currently using '3' mobile internet, which struggles to get up to 500kbps (D/L) and 100kbps (U/L) - so I guess that remote access would be pretty dire!
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Cheers,
Roger
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On 3/12/2010 11:08 AM, Roger Mills wrote:

In my experience, Win7 will happily install most XP and Vista drivers. Win7 successfully installed, and all my peripherals worked on my old desktop, which was based on 6 year old MB, AMD 3200, and all the associated old hardware. With 1GB of RAM, no less.
I think its really going to be luck of the draw on your peripherals working in Win7. Best thing to do will be to Google your peripheral along with Win7. Chances are other people have the same peripheral as you do, and likely there will be a workaround.
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You can in VirtualBox.
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email me, if you must, at huge huge (dot) org <dot> uk]
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On 12/03/2010 17:08, Roger Mills wrote:

I spend a considerable proportion of my working life connected to various machines across the country. No control over the net connection at the far end. Varies from brilliant, through mostly fine, to a few which are not much fun. At a guess, the ones that are not good are on bottom end ADSL connections which are being used for many purposes other than my access to that location. Wish I had some real numbers to give you but we don't actually measure anything like traffic. Perhaps someone else could advise?
The best technologies minimise traffic by caching and all sorts of clever tricks. For me the best user experience is with RDP over a VPN. (I just don't like the effect of connecting and disconnecting VPN connections all day. But if it is all day to one location that is not much of an issue.) Main reason is that RDP will set itself to use the size of monitor you are connecting with (quite large in my case) whereas LogMeIn and VNC use the real monitor size - and some sites I connect to have postage stamps for monitors. But it is also quite fast and fluid.
I'd suggest you simply try it. For simplicity set up free LogMeIn on your computer and try to access it from somewhere else. (That will need a browser plugin on the computer you connect from. Works fine in IE and Firefox.)
--
Rod

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Rod wrote:

Wandering off topic a bit here, but, are you aware of any free solutions that can work in the manner of VNC-SC (i.e. a small prog a user can DL and run that then "phones home" back to me and gives remote control - nicely sidestepping any NAT and firewall issues on the remote end of the setup). While VNC-SC works well controlling XP machines, its painfully slow on Vista and Win7.
--
Cheers,

John.

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On 3/12/2010 7:02 PM, John Rumm wrote:

I don't have any issues with speed going from my Vista laptop (or the Win 7 partition on the laptop) via VNC to my Win 7 desktop upstairs.
Of course, I turn off most of the Aero eye candy, as it does nothing except increase power usage and suck RAM. That could be part of your speed issue?
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Ryan P. wrote:

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Cheers,

John.

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Ryan P. wrote:

Ok, with content this time!

The normal VNC seems ok over a LAN when controlling Vista etc, but the single click version over a pair of ADSL connections seems to have major difficulties.

Turning off aero helps - but its still almost postal - e.g. click for a menu and wait anything from 10 to 20 seconds to see the result etc.
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John.

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Dunno what was wrong with WIN 2000 best prog microsoft ever wrote;))..
--
Tony Sayer


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tony sayer wrote:

What was wrong with W2000 (from MS's point of view) was that everybody already had it. That wasn't good for sales.
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If you feel that a given [old] OS meets your needs, fine, you can say that. I said it for a long time about Windows 98.
However, there is a STRONG (not universal, but strong) consensus that:
1. Windows XP was far better than Windows 2K or 98 2. Windows 7 is better than XP
And I suspect that the number of people who accept 2. will grow over time, as the number of people who accepted 1. grew. I no longer use Windows 98. I did so for a LONG time after XP came out (years), but I no longer do, except on very old hardware on which there is no choice. And although, for hardware and software compatibility reasons, I am currently [still] using XP, I myself accept 2. as valid. And at some point I will stop using Windows XP.
Gib Bogle wrote:

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Barry Watzman wrote:

yes, thats what windows users are tellin me too.

same here, except I run it inside a virtual machine, because Windows is still 15 years behind *nix in terms of general solidity and freedom from viruses and sheer configurability.
And even its font rendering is still crap. Compared with Linux or Macs. It just looks UGLY.
really with machine virtualisation, and RAM as cheap as it is, there is no need to 'choose an OS' - have em all.
If you want MAC OSX, of course you need a Mac, but then with MAC or Linux you can run windows inside a box, and with a mac, you can run linux inside a box, too. Though there isn't a deal of point to that. They are pretty equivalent really.
I cant think of any reason to run windows native on a machine, except possibly gaming.
If you want plug and play and ease of use, get a mac., If you want dirt cheap and superb performance tailored to your needs use Linux.
Leave windows for the few applications you need it for, and use the version that runs those: do everything else on a different OS.
Windows is for people who haven't a clue. Once you have a clue you will go for a Mac if you have money and don't like computers, and for Linux if you have no money, and do like computers.
Or FreeBSD if you are slightly weird.

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On 17/03/2010 01:06, Barry Watzman wrote:

Windows 98 was the old shit 16 bit windows, and utterly different to Win2K and XP. Win2K was the next version of NT. XP was when they took NT into the consumer line. As such XP was far better than 98, but not necessarily much better than 2K.
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