Windows 7 and Buridan’s Ass

In philosophy there is a paradox called Buridan’s Ass named after the 14th century French philosopher Jean Buridan. In this paradox there is an ass placed between two perfect stacks of hay. The ass is paralyzed without a way to choose one stack over the other and starves to death. This is obviously an extreme case but this happened in real life every day. People find themselves stuck between to nearly equal choices and end up paralyzed by the lack of decision. Microsoft has created the same thing in their customers with the sheer number of choices faced when trying to buy Windows 7.

Walt Mossburg has created a nice matrix showing upgrade options. This lets you see what your upgrade options are once you have decided what version of Windows you are going to buy. If you are a home user you can get the Home Premium version. If you need to connect to a domain, there is Professional. And there is Ultimate for those that need features not included in the first two editions. If you want to know what those differences are, I cannot help you.

The next decision is 32-bit or 64-bit. If your computer has a Core 2 Duo or similar processor then you can use either version. If you need to access more than 3GB of RAM then the decision gets easier because only the 64-bit version can do that. Shouldn’t everyone go with the 64-bit version? Sure, so long as you do not have old software that is incompatible with it. For me, the decision is paralyzing to the point that I have delayed buying Windows 7 in hopes that there will be more information available later before the beta version expires.

Apple released Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. There is only one desktop version. It installs and runs in 64-bit mode automatically based on your hardware and you do not need to have this decision. There is just one SKU that makes the $29 purchase a no-brainer.

I’m concerned about performance and compatibility of the 64-bit version knowing that this is the version I eventually want to be using. I need to use it in a dual-boot and virtual environment. One good news items is the fact that the product key for Windows 7 works for both 32-bit and 64-bit versions. So if you had the media, you could install either edition.

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