- Questions to ask yourself
- Desktop PC or notebook?
- How important is mobility?
- What will I be using the notebook for?
- How much do I need to spend?
- Specialised portable computers?
- Ultraportable notebooks
- Tablet PCs
- Palm/hand top computers
- Ruggedised portables
- Processor and chipset
- Intel versus AMD
- Intel notebook processors
- AMD mobile processors
- Other key components
- Questions to ask the retailer
- The market
Which operating system and software are included?
Most notebooks come with either Windows Vista Home Premium, Windows Vista Business, Windows XP Home, Professional or Media Center Edition pre-installed, but a few vendors will also let you opt to have Linux preinstalled. When buying a notebook, you may pick up some real bargains in bundled software, including utilities, backup software (either Nero or Easy Media Creator), productivity software (such as Microsoft Works or an office suite) and sometimes multimedia (DVD/CD) creation software and even games.
How can I tell if the software is legal?
One of the biggest concerns with bundled software is whether you're getting the genuine article.
Microsoft has established a licensing section on its Web site dedicated to protecting users from pirated copies of its software products.
According to the Microsoft site, the best way for you to confirm that the software you have been given with your PC or notebook is authentic Microsoft software, is to first check your end user license agreement (EULA). If you have purchased your PC from a retail outlet and have been given the software with it, check the Microsoft license pack and look for the certificate of authenticity (COA) on the box.
Alternatively, if the software has already been installed on the PC, look for the COA which accompanied the product. For OEM products, the COA is either on a separate page or affixed as a label to the PC chassis.
Open licence customers can view their electronic purchase history via the Microsoft Web site. This site also maintains a free software inventory analyser, which can tell you what Microsoft products you have loaded on your PC. For more information on these, check out the Microsoft Web site.
Besides the operating system, PC or notebook buyers may also receive a range of other software products either bundled with or pre-installed on their system, including reference, business or education programs.
For more general information on pirated software, the BSAA (Business Software Association of Australia) has compiled consumer guides on what to look out for when purchasing PC software. These not only cover new software, but also look at purchasing new or second-hand software online. More information is available on their Web site.
The site also provides links to piracy statements from a variety of software providers, such as Macromedia, Symantec, Autodesk and Adobe. All such sites advise users to purchase their PC and related software from a reputable reseller, and to check that all software comes with authentic packaging and a licence agreement. Even if the software has already been pre-installed on your PC or notebook, the reseller should still provide you with a software licence agreement. You should also receive the original software discs and manuals for all the pre-installed software. Users can also seek further information on anti-piracy laws and report suspected pirated software to the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA). The trade organisation has over 800 member companies from the software and Internet industry worldwide.