Technology

You Choose Which Windows OS to Use


By Lincoln Spector A lot of people want to upgrade to Windows XP but are scared of losing the operating system they know. Microsoft doesn't make it easy. VCommunications' $60 System Commander 7 does.

System Commander is a boot manager--software that resides in your hard drive's master boot record and helps you manage multiple operating systems. When you boot your computer, System Commander opens and asks you which OS you want to use.

Version 7 adds Windows XP support, a prettier user interface, and the full functionality of Partition Commander 6 (for creating and managing the partitions that the different OSs are stored in) integrated into the program.

This is more partitioning power than previous versions offered, but it's still not up to the level of PowerQuest's PartitionMagic, a partitioning program that comes with a boot manager. For instance, System Commander lacks PartitionMagic's ability to merge or split partitions; if you have a continuing need for this type of software, PartitionMagic is the better choice.

But the PowerQuest product has nothing like System Commander's OS Wizard, which asks you a few questions, prepares your hard drive for sharing old and new OSs, and then reboots so you can install the new one. This is an extremely easy way for technically unsophisticated users to get two operating systems onto one computer.

One serious flaw: OS Wizard offers you the option of letting the old and new OSs share the same partition. Beware: Running Windows XP and an older version on the same partition is asking for trouble. The software documentation's warning on this is inadequate, in my opinion.

Experienced users might prefer the cheaper Partition Commander or the more powerful PartitionMagic, but System Commander remains the easiest way to add a new operating system without giving up your current one. From the April 2002 issue of PC World magazine


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