It is sad to say that finding how to upgrade stuff and get support is not easy. I am going to write another blog or article on support with the manufacturers but for now, I just want to let you know about my call with Melinda.
I met Melinda (who ironically has the same name as my mother) at the Charlton Sewing Center (http://www.charltonsewingcenter.com) during an ASG meeting. She called me yesterday to try to figure out which way she should go with buying a new laptop as she wanted to use her Bernina software she had yet to pull out of the box, over a year later. Stuck in "Mac Land" with her home computer being a mac, she had never gotten the software out. But now she was in the market for a PC and wanted to know which one would work well for her with an eye twoards the Bernina software.
I went over a few things with her that I think everyone should know, so I think this is an opportune time to share them with everyone here online.
To understand what I am going to say in a little while I need to go on a bit of a semi-technical tangent.
When you buy a brand name computer (commonly referred to as OEM) you are purchasing an installed operating system. The devil is in the details, as with everything else.
This operating system could be Vista (most common) or XP. These OS names are tossed out like beads at Mardi Gras. They are commonly referred to on the side of a 3d party software box (like a game you want to install) as being compatable with what you think you have. But saying a piece of 3d party software " is compatable with Vista" is like asking someone for a tissue and them giving you a Puffs Plus tissue. You asked for the tissue to clean that schmutz off of your glasses... only to find out that you are wrong, and the lens is now completely covered.
Yes they are both facial tissues, but you didn't know that they had a lotion saturated tissue to give you until you used it....because a tissue is a tissue and Vista is Vista right... well not really...
The "lotion" here in the operating system here is what 64 bit means. To understand that we need to know what a bit is. A bit is a piece of information... represented as a 1 or 0.This is presented to the computers processor to complete a task. Instead of sending a single 1 or 0, the computer has the ablity to evaluate them in strings of 32 or 64(saying something is 64 bits, means...well think of it as the amount of information that the computer can process at once). This string is a piece of information, combined to a string of a combination of 32 or 64 1's and 0's, depending if you have a 64 bit operating system or a 32 bit one.
What does all of this mean? Well, it means that the 3d party software, like a game or your embroidery software, must be designed to run at that higher bit rate level or be compatible with its nuances in order for things to work properly. Think of it like when you were back at school and had to take French 101 and French 202.
The kids from the french 202 could talk to the kids who were taking French 101, but the kids from french 101 couldn't always understand what the kids in French 202 were saying. Being in the French 202 class meant that you could speak with the same speed and verbage that the other 202's could speak. You maybe could understand the kids who were in 101, but they often could not understand you if you spoke with all of your new vocabulary.
Just like once upon a time, occasionally, you could run a 16 bit application in a 32 bit environment. You just couldn't run a 32 bit application in a 16 bit environment. Like running a Windows 95 program in Windows 3x. You could run some of your Windows 3x games on 95... but not all the time. The same thing applies here.
With the advent of Vista, the operating system folks and the hardware folks want everyone to go forward to 64. It brings enhancements of what you can do with your computer. Things such as: having your home computer see and use more than 2 gig worth of memory.... you now can see and use 4 gig worth of memory with a 64 bit operating system.
Make sense? Ok.
So that being said, Vista has come out in 2 flavors....of which you may or may not know which one you are getting until you try to "clean your glasses" or do something.
Vista, flavor 1: 64 bit
This is the one everyone want you to have on your computer as it is the "future".
Commonly this comes pre-installed on an OEM (brand name) computer, but not all the time. If you read the specs (commonly known as a white sheet) on the computer to be purchased, next to the operating system, it will say Microsoft Vista 64 bit Home Edition, or something similar. Very often this is the one that is offered as the laptop is on sale.
Vista, flavor 2: 32 bit
This one is available installed on the computer.....sometimes. Less frequently already installed and ready to go than the 64 bit, this operating system is found on some installed machines. However, more often than not, it is available if you walk into a big store like Staples, CompUSA or other store that sells software, with out being preinstalled on a computer. It is in what they call "box form" for someone who wants to build their own computer or upgrade their computer.
That tangent being said, Bernina does not support anything but Version 5 of Editor or Designer in a 64 bit environment. On their support website, it then white washes a general claim of not supporting Vista for ANY software but v5.
Thinking about the previous statement of 64 vs 32, and knowing that the dongle key driver (aka HASP driver) for v4 only works a 32 bit environment... you would think that the 32 bit flavor of Vista would be supported. The answer to that is no.
On some newsgroups for the Editor and Designer, it has been mentioned that someone, somewhere, got this to work in the Vista 32 bit OS. That may be, but its not supported. And from my research and asking in my newsgroups, no one can remember who its is...or what is needed to make it work.
So if you don't have v5, and you have an earlier version of Editor or Designer, what do you do?
1)Figure out if you can or should upgrade to V5 or buy a XP computer
You need to evaluate where you are and what your needs are. What is cheaper? The upgrade and the "deal" on the laptop or simply buying a laptop with XP. Are you looking to run 64 bit programs in the future that require more RAM? These are questions you need to think about.
2) Read the specs of anything you are considering buying. And don't just think that buying XP will get you away from 64 bit... a few versions of XP run in 64. Its kind of like the old disaster of Windows 95 OSR2. People did not realize that OSR2 ran at 32 vs the 16 bit of Windows 95.... and then games and stuff did not work.
3) Read the support listings for the operating system AND the bit rate at the 3d party softwares support site online. Go into newsgroups and chat rooms and read read read!
See what you need to be aware of first. Then proceed with purchasing!