SEATTLE --- Microsoft Corp.'s next installment of Windows doesn't launch until October, but deep discounts on some versions are available through Saturday if you want to pre-order.
There are reasons why you'd want Windows 7: It appears to be more stable -- less prone to crashes -- than previous versions of Windows. It's less annoying than Vista, which could deluge users with security warnings and other nagging reminders. Windows 7 has a cleaner, simpler interface.
You still must choose from Home Premium, Professional or Ultimate and each full version is also offered as an upgrade. If you already have a Windows computer, buy the upgrade.
Retailers such as Amazon.com Inc. and Best Buy Co. are taking pre-orders for the Home Premium upgrade and the Professional upgrade, for $50 and $100, respectively. In the fall, those will cost $120 and $200.
If you have Windows Vista Home Premium or Business, pre-ordering the upgrade makes sense. You can trade up from Home Premium, or down from Business, with no extra hassle during installation. When your disk or download arrives Oct. 22, your PC will get a makeover, but your files, programs and settings should remain intact. (Don't tempt fate. Back up everything anyway.)
If you have Vista Ultimate, you can pre-order the comparable version of Windows 7 for $220 or choose a lesser version of Windows 7. If you have Windows XP, upgrading to Windows 7 is possible if your PC is powerful enough.