Advice on what to buy next

I'm still using a Toshiba laptop purchased in 2008 with XP and all of the Office packages. I use Outlook to manage my various email accounts and have a very comprehensive filing system of my emails which goes back to 2005. Apart from the fact my machine is now running very slowly and there are a few sites which won't run, I have few problems. I'm now considering my next move.

Unfortunately, my legit copy of Office Professional is an upgrade to Office 95, so I think it is time to buy a much newer version or switch to something which will still allow me to work on all my old files and communicate with clients who use Word, Excel and Access.

So my questions are:

  1. Should I just buy the latest version of Office or is there any other option which will give me the same functionality?

  2. If I buy Office, what is the best Operating System to run it on? I'm an avid keyboard user and not very keen on touchscreen apps.

  3. Apart from Office packages, email and some minor web browsing, I only use the computer for watching dvds, downloading radio podcasts and I might want to investigate accessing iplayer and similar programs. So I guess I'm what is called a 'lite' user. No heavy downloads or streaming. I like having all my files stored on hard disk and backed up to external drive rather than using cloud technology. So any advice on good-value-for-money laptops? I will buy online or in UK.

I'm not in any hurry to buy, and appreciate all advice.

Thanks guys. In fact, I have kept up to date with the latest Office versions, as my clients use them, and I even have Outlook 2013 installed on my laptop, but it is licenced to a former client, so will lose it when I buy a new laptop. I managed the transition from BBC Micro to IBM PC running MS DOS (WordStar, Lotus 123 and dBase) in the early 1980s to Windows and even a new fangled thing called a mouse, so not too worried about the next major learning curve. It's just that I bought a cheap, Chinese Android tablet last year, and have never warmed to it, so don't want to repeat the mistake with a laptop. Would prefer to pay more and have exactly what I want.

I agree, I think that either an Apple laptop with Microsoft Office or a new generic PC laptop with Windows 7 fit the bill well here.

Unfortunately for Clare, MS office has undergone a whole lot of changes over the years - Ribbon interface etc - so whichever way Clare moves there will be a slight learning curve.

There is also Office 365 which will work with any PC browser I believe - but Clare mentioned not wanting to use cloud technology - which is fine.



Sorry Nick. I was not trying to be blinkered.

Reading Clare's post I see a lady who has been on the Microsoft bandwagon for a long time now and the hardware/software combination she is using has just gone out of date.

I would think that what Clare is looking for is to update the machine and the software so that she can have another 5 years of computing with the least fuss possible.

Staying on the Microsoft bandwagon may well be best for her. Better the devil you know and all that.

Hi Clare,

I think for your requirements then a laptop that can run Windows 7 would be a good move forward. Windows 8 is designed for a touch interface, which with the right hardware can be useful for some but not something you said you required. On the wrong hardware it can be a nightmare as many users will attest. Windows 8 would be completely different to that which you currently use for Office and the user interface, while Windows 7 would be far more familiar. You can always upgrade to Windows 8 later, as all hardware bought today would support it.

Apple computers fully support Microsoft office, so that might be another avenue for you to investigate, there hardware prices can be a little rich for some tastes, but they are good. I use their products and can attest to the quality. The Mac book air is great device, very light for moving around and offers tremendous battery life - way more than any of it's competitors.

Ignoring Carl's rather blinkered comments for the moment, there are other alternatives to the Microsoft path, which offer great savings and freedom from a single supplier which leaves you locked into their products as you are now. It would require effort to change however, and in your situation, probably not something I would recommend as you are so heavily using Microsoft products.

Dell, HP and Lenovo are the PC makers I have used in the past all offer Windows 7 as an option. I agree that you should look more towards £500-700 for a machine as you it will offer better long term protection.



Doubtless you will be told that you do not need MS Office and should opt for a free office solution like Open Office (while converting to Linux and buying a Mac with the money you saved)

Anyway, After you have seen those people off (with a can of petrol and a box of matches I hope) you can pick up a single user copy of Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013 from fleabay for less than a ton. (£94.98 to be exact)

The best operating system to run stuff on is always the newest one as it will give you the longest lifespan.

Win8 is pretty new and anything else would be folly. You neither have to buy or use a touch screen laptop although as this year rolls on they will soon all have a touch screens. Don't panic, Touch screen laptops still (mostly) have keyboards.

As for choice of laptop? Well you would have to ask that question when you are ready to buy.

Always remember that most manufacturers have a bottom-end range that are built to a price for the big chain stores to knock out.

These machines, almost without exception, are rubbish.

Expect to spend between £300 and £500 for something useful. Less than £300 and you will be back asking why it is so slow.