Letters have been flowing in, so let's get to the inbox and answer some questions.
Question: I read about Steve Jobs and his announcement of the new iPhones, but the article did not mention anything about getting them anywhere other than AT&T. I am tied to a long-term contract with another carrier. When are they going to be available at Sprint?
Answer:. You're out of luck for another four years. (Can you believe Apple was so stupid?) Yup, in order to get a legal iPhone in the U.S., you have to sign up with AT&T. That has left out many corporate customers who have contracts with other carriers and won't switch. You can always try a hacked iPhone, but you run the risk of it not working when Apple releases a patch. I have to believe that after sales have cooled at AT&T in a year or two, Apple will realize their blunder and try to renegotiate the deal. (Following Steve's keynote, Apple's stock dropped four bucks a share, so Wall Street seems to agree.)
However, keep in mind that competitors are not standing still. Look at the new BlackBerry phones coming out soon for example. (Google the "BlackBerry Thunder," and start saving your money now.) You may not even want an iPhone by the time Apple wakes up that there are other carriers out there.
Question: Your column last week talked about AVG Free Edition (anti-virus) and how it had expired. Mine did not expire at the end of May and is still working, it appears. Should I upgrade to the new edition?
Answer: I believe the expiration is a ploy to expose consumers to the option of upgrading to the paid version, which disappoints me, because I believe the company should be more up-front offering the free and paid versions and let consumers clearly pick which one they need. As for the differences between 7.5 and 8.0, I don't see a huge difference.
Question: You mentioned that I still will be able to buy a computer with Windows XP installed after the June 30 deadline for selling XP. I don't even see them in stores now.
Answer: These won't be in retail stores generally, though computer specialty stores will have them. These will be online retailers, like Dell, and you may have to do a little hunting. For example, Dell will offer "downgrade" rights to XP Pro on its XPS, Latitude and Vostro line for small business and enterprise customers, but you don't have to have a business to order one. Just click on the small business tab on the Web site and order a PC.
HP will offer XP downgrade rights until July 2009, the company says.In both cases, you will get media for both XP and Vista if you ask for media, so you can always "upgrade" to Vista if you choose. (Sometimes, you don't get media at all, so it is best to ask for it. Instead they hide the restore partition on the hard disk itself, which is no fun when the hard disk goes bad.) So it is always a good idea to spend the extra $10 for the CDs or DVDs of the Windows media.
James Derk is owner of CyberDads, a computer repair firm, and tech columnist for Scripps Howard News Service. His e-mail address is [email protected].