With Windows, it pays to watch your language

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 April, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 April, 2001, 12:00am

I am a computer illiterate. I need a system which is reasonably fast on e-mail with comfortable room for both English and Chinese Windows together with a couple of Chinese input methods, and no pirated software. Can I expect a system to last for at least 5 years? What is your recommendation?



It sounds as if you are not much of a games fanatic or graphics person, in which case you need not get the fastest thing out there. The trick in buying a computer is knowing exactly what you want to do with it, and it seems you have a good idea what you will be doing over the next few years.

I am not quite certain why you need a dual-bootable machine. There can be lots of complications with such an arrangement. Any application that you install under Chinese Windows is likely not be recognised under English Windows and vice versa. (One of the reasons Apple's Macintosh is so popular with those who need two systems is that the Mac does not have this problem. But you did say you wanted to run Windows). If you want a dual-bootable machine, you will need to use something like PartitionMagic (www.powerquest.com) to set it up.

This is not for the faint of heart. Re-partitioning a hard disk will destroy everything on it. You then must re-install the operating system and install the second OS on the second partition. There is a great deal of room for mistakes. You could ask a friend, possibly even the vendor.

If your main concern is e-mail, you need not be too worried about computer speed - your Internet connection speed is far more important. However, protecting your investment over the next five years is another matter. If you were to get a Windows machine running about 70MHz, you should have no trouble for several years.

You could get away with a standard graphics card supporting a resolution of 1024x768 with eight-bit or 16-bit colour.

I use an English-based Windows machine with TwinBridge installed to handle Chinese. It works fine for my purposes. I think you should consider this carefully. Chinese Windows can handle English-language computing, so why do you need an English system?

On the other hand, with something like TwinBridge installed on top of an English-language system, you do not need a separate Chinese system.

I strongly urge you to take one of these paths. Mixing systems is almost certainly asking for trouble. As far as your five-year plan is concerned, you are certainly far better organised than I am if you know what you will be doing in five years and what kind of computer you will be using.

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