Mr. Modem: Choosing between Windows 7 and Windows 8

I’m dithering about Windows 8. I don’t know whether to get it or not. I’m also scared to death to change from my Windows 7 since I’m comfortable with it. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated, Mr. M.

Since you are comfortable with your current Windows 7, there is no reason to change anything. If, however, you are in the market for a new computer, there isn’t any reason to fear Windows 8. It’s different, for sure, but then again, Vista and Windows 7 were different from Windows XP, and XP was different from Windows 98.

Like anything new, there is a learning curve, but Windows 8 is not more difficult than any previous version of Windows once you become familiar with it. For the full Windows 8 experience, it is best to have a touchscreen monitor. That’s what the new operating system was really designed for, though it certainly can be used with a traditional mouse.

If you aren’t in the market for a new computer, my best advice would be to continue to use and enjoy Windows 7.

I use a laptop but I prefer using it with a wireless mouse. When I’m typing, I accidentally touch the laptop’s touchpad, which causes my cursor to jump around the screen. Is there any way I can disconnect the internal touchpad on my laptop?

Yes, there is. In fact, many laptops have a keystroke combination for just that purpose. The shortcut is often FN + F9, but the specific keystroke combination can vary. If tapping FN + F9 doesn’t disable it, check your computer manufacturer’s website Support area to determine the correct combination.

As an alternative, you might be able to access the touchpad Settings menu by clicking the arrow in the Notification area at the bottom-right corner of the screen. Right-click the touchpad’s icon and select Touchpad Properties.

Navigate to the tab with the name of your touchpad. It may refer to it as a pointing device, arrow thingie or other term. The tab, if it exists, should appear to the right of the Hardware tab. Click your touchpad in the list, then select Stop Device. If you need to enable it at some point in the future, return to the same screen and click Enable Device.

In some devices, the touchpad option may not appear in the Notification area. In that case, open the Start menu and navigate to the Control Panel > Hardware and Sound. Click the Mouse link listed under Devices and Printers and select the touchpad item. Click Disable Device as described above.

Mr. Modem publishes “Ask Mr. Modem!” each week, featuring PC tips, tricks and plain-English answers to your questions by email. For more information, visit

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