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Can your computer handle Windows 7?

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If you own a Windows Vista machine, good news: Odds are you can use Microsoft’s new Windows 7 when it comes out Thursday – unless you’ve really screwed your computer up. But what if you’re running Windows XP on a pre-Vista machine?

Enter the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor, a tool Microsoft launched Tuesday to help people see if their computers can run Windows 7.

It can be downloaded for free here, and it scans your computer for any problems with your hardware, devices and applications. Then it recommends what you should do before upgrading, if your computer can handle Windows 7.

Heads up – the program sends information back to Microsoft. But, the company says, the info won’t be used to identify or contact you.

Remember all that hoopla with Windows Vista when it first came out in 2007, that it just didn’t work well with third-party peripherals? All signs so far indicate Windows 7 won’t have as much of a problem, but it’s still good to check.

Enter the Windows 7 Compatibility Center, a Web site Microsoft set up to help people see if their external devices are compatible with Windows 7.

New devices are likely in the clear – if they boast the Windows 7 logo, they’ll work. But the Compatibility Center also lists peripherals whose manufacturers stated are compatible with both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 7, according to the site’s FAQ.

Also available on the site are drivers and software updates to get your system running correctly.

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