Windows 7 pricing and compatibility

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

Since the introduction of Windows 7 on October 22, I’ve been responding to many questions about it in my weekly "Ask Mr. Modem" newsletter ( The two most frequently asked questions concern pricing of the various versions of Windows 7 and if an older computer can be upgraded to Windows 7.

The following are the most recent prices published by Microsoft, as I write this, with the caveat that these prices are subject to change. (Aren’t they always?)

Windows 7 Home Premium, Full installation: $199.99; Home Premium, Upgrade: $119.99; Professional, Full installation: $299.99; Professional Upgrade: $199.99; Ultimate, Full installation: $319.99; Ultimate, Upgrade: $219.99. (Does $219.99 really sound that much less expensive than $220?)

As far as determining if your current system is a candidate for Windows 7, Microsoft’s Upgrade Advisor will scan your hardware, peripheral devices and installed programs for known compatibility issues. This downloadable program will provide guidance regarding any potential issues found and will offer pre-upgrade suggestions

Q. I lost a list of keystroke shortcuts that you provided, Mr. M., that used the numeric keypad. With the shortcuts, I could create various fractions and special accent marks. I've tried to locate such a list but I haven’t been able to find one. If you could help, I'd be forever grateful.

A. For readers who may not be familiar with what you’re referring to, users can create what are called special characters using the ALT key and several numerals entered using the keypad to the far right of a desktop computer keyboard. To make these special characters, the first thing you need to do is enable the numeric keypad by pressing the NUM LOCK key.

With the NUMLOCK key enabled, hold down the ALT key, and using the numeric keypad, type the number that is associated with a special character you would like to create, then release the ALT key. The special character will appear at the location of your cursor.

For example, to type the little ™ for “trademark” such as in Mr. Modem™, hold down the ALT key, enter the numbers 0153, then release the ALT key. Voilá! (Hint: The little accent over the “a” in “voilá” was created using ALT + 0225).

You will find a complete list of special characters and the number codes required to create each one in my “Special Characters” article.

Mr. Modem's Sites of the Week:

American Roadside
This site is bumper-to-bumper full of fun roadside attractions, interesting destinations along scenic routes, and charming meatloaf-and-taters diners. Read interesting articles, view the photo gallery, or buy books, t-shirts, and other American Roadside cra—paraphernalia, all guaranteed to end up in your junk drawer.

Birthday Statistics
While “On-the-day-you-were-born” news headline sites abound, this one has a few new wrinkles—not unlike myself, I might add. Type in your birth date and click the Submit button. You’ll receive lots of interesting facts, including the disturbing candlepower resulting from the number of candles on your birthday cake, your age in dog years, your birth tree (who knew?) and more.

Google Guide
Google is arguably the most popular search engine on the Web today. To launch a search, most users type in a search term and click the Google Search button, which is fine. But Google is capable of so much more. Use this Google Guide as your personal cheat sheet for launching more sophisticated searches that will yield more focused results.

For plain-English answers to your questions by email, plus useful PC tips, subscribe to Mr. Modem’s Weekly Newsletter. For information, visit