QUESTION I'm keen to replace my Windows 98 PC, but I want to be sure that I can continue using my software and peripherals before I do so. I have an HP 940c printer, an Epson Perfection 1200 scanner, Fujifilm and Olympus cameras with software that's compatible with XP and Windows Vista, plus Microsoft Office 2007. Will I be able to continue using these in XP or Microsoft Windows 7? Peter Cogger
HELPROOM ANSWER It's definitely a good idea to move away from Windows 98, but XP is also getting close to its end of life – mainstream support ended in 2009. That leaves Vista and Windows 7. The latter is a competent operating system, and will be supplied with any new PC you buy. Office 2007 will work just fine, as will your HP printer and two cameras. However, it's worth checking the manufacturers' support sites for updated versions of their software.
The only problem is your scanner, which is now 12 years old and designed to work only with operating systems up to Windows 2000. This is no longer supported by Epson. However, there is a way in which you could continue using it in Windows 7 – provided that you're prepared to do a little work.
Using free virtualisation software such as VirtualBox, you can run Windows 98 within Windows 7. There is no guarantee that this will work correctly, however. Also note that the USB 1.0 port used by your scanner is significantly slower than the USB 2.0 (or even USB 3.0) ports found on newer machines.
Our best advice is to invest in a new scanner with more features, better image resolution and speed. If you can stretch to it, a multifunction printer includes a scanner, copier, printer, fax and a card reader.