RING! Computer Advisor
by John Waters


What to buy



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What should you buy? > Application Software

Congratulations! You are making progress.

No one ever said this would not be complex. In fact, I think we said on the first page that buying a new computer HAS gotten complex!

Anyway ... hopefully you have a handle on which OS to use. If not, email us and we may post your reply in the FAQ section.

Now, moving on to applications.

Applications are ALL programs that run under the OS. Everything you actually work with day-to-day. Writing a letter, drawing images, getting on the Internet, doing your checkbook are all software programs.

When buying your new or used computer, you must make certain that the applications will work with what you buy.

Apple programs will not work under Windows. Unix programs will not work under Windows. (yes, there are emulators ... but we aren't getting into that here for sure). The application specifications will say "runs under Microsoft Windows XP" or "runs under Windows98 and Windows2000" and so-on. You'll find the specs on the vendor's Web site or on the software box. If you have Windows98 you can't run an XP program, and if you have XP, you can maybe run most 98 programs okay.

Word Processing.Spreadsheets, etc.
Most of the systems today are "bundled" with Microsoft Works or Corel Office. These are not the same as Microsoft Office or the full version of Word Perfect. If you need to frequently work with people with Office or Word Perfect, you MUST have the full blown versions. While you can do simple documents, the formatting will not transmit between these low-end versions and the top-of-the-line programs. So you will need to purchase extra licenses of these packages for your unit(s). Again, purchase upgrades and purchase licenses, not full blown packages. We can help you get less expensive paper licenses and save you money.

Business Software
Beyond the Word Processing, Spreadsheet and Powerpoint stuff, there is the meat and potatoes of computer applications ... games! .... NO, just kidding... I mean business applications. These software programs do your accounting, checkbook, invoicing, balance sheet and much more. Each of these tens of thousands of programs is slightly different and you can spend a lifetime reviewing them. The most common ones for personal use are Intuit Quicken and Microsoft Money. From there you need to do a lot of homework. You can find more information and choices on www.businesssoftware.com.

Whatever hardware you buy; make sure the software you intend to run on it:

1. Works with the OS you are buying

2. Is compatible with every other version on any other machines you are running. 

3. Has all the functionality you need.

Once you have the software pinned down to the OS and your user environment, then you need to look at:

1. RAM requirements

2. Hard drive requirements

3. Peripheral requirements

Note that we have not looked at hardware yet! Until we get a feel for what the software needs to run, we can't configure the hardware.

So let's go look at the 3 things that determine the basic hardware configuration.


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This article is copyrighted by John Waters.
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