As Martha dislikes the performance of her laptop that's running Vista, and as Emma needs a new laptop, we're wondering what the options are.My obvious answer is "switch to Apple", but the prices are now seriously higher than Dell laptops, for example. A big enough gap to even make me pause ...So, time for an experiment with Windows 7. I downloaded the (free) Release Candidate before it disappeared and have now installed on the laptop as an alternative to Vista. Even as an Apple fan, I'm pleased to say it's a vastly better experience than Vista. And that's got to be good for everyone over time, as it will have to keep Apple innovating.Installing Win7 itself was easy, though it failed to find the in-built memory stick reader. But the real test is in installing the additional applications that make it a useful system. And this is now very quick and easy, with no need for reboots. Even the infamous security nag screens are painless now. I hate to say it: if anything it's a slightly quicker and easier process than on a Mac.The interface seems slightly more straightforward, and the whole experience feels much snappier. So, I can see Emma being happy with it, and maybe Martha too. Unless she'd be OK with a smallish 13" screen on the more affordable MacBook laptops.None of this will stop me from upgrading my MacBook to run the new version of its operating system (Snow Leopard) released yesterday. This will save space, make it run faster, and also brings lots of small improvements throughout. I can't see myself switching to Win7, but with it Microsoft could well slow down the large recent drift to Mac.