Technology

Hasta La Vista

Microsoft's Windows 7 is faster and less clunky.

Seven is shaping up as a lucky number for PC users. Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system will likely be standard on new PCs in time for the holiday shopping season, and pilot versions of the system are getting favorable reviews.

That's good news for anyone planning to buy a new PC this year, and for users who are frustrated with Microsoft's unpopular Vista operating system.

Windows 7 will be much faster than Vista, so you won't have to wait as long between the time you click and the moment your program opens -- a common gripe among Vista users. And you'll be able to manage hardware -- such as printers, scanners and cameras -- on a single screen instead of using a separate screen for each function, as with previous operating systems.

In the bells-and-whistles category, Microsoft has added advanced touch-screen capabilities, so you can control your computer without a mouse or keyboard by sliding or tapping your finger (you'll need a touch-sensitive monitor to do this).

Microsoft is still beta testing Windows 7 and will continue to tweak it for months. The company hasn't made a decision yet on how much the system will cost. So if you're in no hurry to buy a new PC, it might make sense to wait for 7 to debut.

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