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Choosing a new PC package for a relative.. Post your recommendations

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I'm afraid I'm like your Dad, Mouser. The four machines around me are all home-grown, and I'm putting the finishing touches on a Win 7 box based on a Gigabyte EP45-UDP3 MB, and 4gigs of PC2 8500 RAM. The only times recently I've bought anything pre-assembled was a Lenovo refurbed XPPro desktop and an ASUS 1008HA Seashell Netbook, both for a friend who's an absolute Luddite when it comes to hardware. I did strip all of the pre-installed crap out of those machines and customized the boxes for her use.

Although I have geeky tendencies, the hardware gains still far outpace my software needs. Others keep giving me PCs a few years old which have been: an IBM, an emachines, and a Compaq (HP version) with an Athlon 200+ processor. You would think the emachines would grind to a hault soon, but it still runs find and quiet after years of operation (cheap parts must have been good that year!). The IBM was a solid workhorse, and the Conpaq a disappointment compared to the reviews.

All and all, a real home try reveals many things a store demo does not. Most of the chain stores provide a few weeks return policy, if minimal good support afterwords.

My huge gripe with widows machines is the infamous activation, and registry. Would it be nice after years of customizing, to just plot your old hard drive into the new machine and have it pretty much work (or alternately clone the old software?
But no - you need new drivers, you can not easily merge the new and old registry without creating a mess, and you must deal with the drive-you-insane activation process, even if you have 2 valid versions of (say) windows xp, and you must remove the new crapware.

Ah - if someone would write something like winLite, for a smooth software transition from old to new machine, or - if Microsoft would sell compromise licenses -say one copy of windows good for 2 or 3 machines.


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