QI read your column advising someone to avoid Windows 8 and stick with Windows 7 if they don't have a touch screen.

But another option is to get a new touch pad, which allows you to use the same gestures you would on a touch screen. Wouldn't that be easier to use than a touch screen because we're already primed to use a device beside our PCs?


Minnetonka Beach

AWhat you suggest strikes me as a way to force Windows 8 onto an older desktop or laptop PC that wasn't designed to run it. That's probably not a good idea.

Why? Unlike earlier versions of Windows, Windows 8 isn't much of an improvement over what preceded it. All it offers, really, is a new touch-screen interface. So if the touch-screen experience isn't satisfactory, you have to ask yourself why you bought it.

There are four distinct groups who will potentially use Windows 8, probably with varying degrees of satisfaction.

Tablet computer users: This is still a new market, and there's room for another major operating system besides Apple's iOS and Google's Android. While Microsoft's own Surface Windows 8 tablet is not quite as slick as Apple's iPad, it's a good touch-screen device.

Smartphone users: There's more competition for Windows 8 in smartphones because iPhones and Android phones both have loyal users. Microsoft has barely made a dent in the smartphone market in the past, so Windows 8 has a steep hill to climb.

Users of new Windows 8 desktop and laptop PCs that come with touch screens: The success of Windows 8 will depend on whether it's better for doing real work than Windows 7 or XP that are run by a keyboard and mouse. Since millions of people have been happy with the traditional Windows interface, it's unclear whether the Windows 8 touch-screen approach will be successful.

In addition, using the Windows 8 interface on a new PC means having to buy all your software over again. (Windows 8 allows you to switch back to the traditional Windows 7 mode to run your existing software, but that defeats the purpose of buying Windows 8.)

Users of older PCs without touch screens: My advice is to stick with Windows 7, not Windows XP.

QI have been trying, unsuccessfully, to get rid of my free AOL e-mail account. I don't use it, and in May some hackers got into it and created a mess.

I've tried to call and write to AOL, but they don't respond. What can I do?


ASee "How do I cancel my free AOL account?" at tinyurl.com/aocnv36.

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