For the first time in a very long time, I feel as good about a Windows release as I do about my current desktop, Ubuntu. Having done plenty of testing with both Windows 7 RCs and the beta for the upcoming Ubuntu 9.10, I can honestly say I can use either and not find myself cringing. For me, a former Windows enthusiast, that is saying a LOT.

This article from the BBC points out some thoughts on the upcoming release of 9.10. And as stated in the article, it is certainly true that the next release will be overshadowed with the new release of Windows 7. No problem here; I think just having the option of choosing either from various OEMs is fantastic. My favorite OEM is System76.com as it not only has the best support from ANY vendor (including Apple) that I have ever dealt with, it provides ongoing hardware support in case Ubuntu drops the ball with upcoming releases. So this has always met with my needs well. Not to mention the provided hardware is not crap, either. Brand name components at a price that works for me based on what I am getting — I could not be happier.

So what about Windows 7? Honestly, just for the sake of staying in tune with things, I have an older AMD Athlon 64 system that would do very well with components provided. I have given some thought to looking into installing in onto my secondary machine. But even coming in at the low-end, that is $200! Seriously, I am totally willing to spend that if I felt like I was gaining something significant. But with XP running great as a VirtualBox guest on my main system, I cannot justify spending $200 on a disc and a box. I’d rather put that into hardware myself, but that is just me. No, for that price I might as well buy a cheap Dell or a Netbook running Windows 7. At least then, the cost is going to hardware rather than the OS.

As for my older AMD machine, it is going to likely continuing running Ubuntu 9.04 and Hulu Desktop. See, my TV has a VGA port along with an audio cable that works great with my laptop. I figure, why not simply use my older PC as a Hulu box? That might be pretty cool.

So what about you? As great as Windows 7 is, will you justify the upgrade cost? Obviously those of you in the IT field will take this as a cost of doing business. But do you deem this worthwhile for those just using this casually? Are you finding the value there over Vista or XP? Hit the comments, let me know.

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