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Windows' New Vista

Microsoft's new operating system debuts in January. Should you upgrade?

Just in time for the new year, Microsoft is gearing up for a new era. In January the company will launch Vista, its first new operating system since Windows XP. Current XP users can expect to pay $100 to $400 for Vista, depending on the version. Go to to see if your system can handle it.

Vista is packed with new features. A more powerful search function puts old e-mails, photos and other files at your fingertips. Enhanced parental controls show where the kids have been online. It's harder to accidentally erase data and easier to protect against viruses and snoops. You can choose voice-activation (if your house is quiet) instead of a mouse.

Should you upgrade? If you're computer-shopping now, absolutely; if your machine is more than two years old, probably not.