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Many Windows 7 users won’t like Windows 8.1, which was designed for use with a touch screen. It can be used with a keyboard, but it is not convenient.

Many Windows 7 users won’t like Windows 8.1, which was designed for use with a touch screen. It can be used with a keyboard, but it is not convenient. (Dreamstime/TNS)

The pending end of Microsoft security updates for Windows 7, scheduled for Jan. 14, 2020, has led some readers to ask about alternatives to its successor, Windows 10.

Here is what you could do:

- Switch to Windows 8.1 (about $36 online), which will receive security updates until Jan. 10, 2023. But many Windows 7 users won't like Windows 8.1, which was designed for use with a touch screen. It can be used with a keyboard (see tinyurl.com/y2u6qjsa), but it is not convenient.

- Buy an Apple computer with the macOS operating system. The transition will be relatively easy. But there is less software written for Macs than for PCs, because fewer people use them. (The Mac operating system has a 12% worldwide market share, compared to 75% for Windows.) Price is also an issue. New Macs start at $1,000 while new PCs start at $250.

- Switch to a lesser-known operating system, such as Linux (1.6% market share, runs on PCs) or Chrome (1.2% market share, runs only on computers called Chromebooks.) Both will require some time to learn, and aren't well-suited to casual PC users.

Here's what to avoid:

- Don't use Windows 7 after January. Don't use any earlier version of Windows. Without Microsoft security updates, they're vulnerable to hacking.

Here is what I recommend:

- Get Windows 10, which is a lot like Windows 7. Check your PC manufacturer's website to learn if it be upgraded, or if you need a new one.

Q: I access Comcast e-mail via Microsoft Outlook on my PC. Twice in the last couple of years, I've had a large number of stored e-mails disappear from my account for no reason. Comcast said it happened because I didn't access my e-mail account often enough - they told me to log in to my e-mail at least once every three months to prevent e-mail deletion. What should I do?

Rebecca Fuller, Woodbury

A: You are not the only Comcast customer with a disappearing e-mail problem. Over the last several months, many users have reported similar situations (see tinyurl.com/y6s9y7mg and tinyurl.com/y5najbj2), but there has been no good explanation of the problem.

For example, the explanation you were given - that you didn't log into Comcast's mail server often enough - doesn't make sense. Your Outlook program logs into their mail server every time you read your e-mail.

I suggest you get a different e-mail provider (such as Google's Gmail, Yahoo Mail or Microsoft's Outlook.com). You can do that while still buying internet access service from Comcast. (To add a new e-mail address to Outlook, see tinyurl.com/y487y2dm).

Q: I use the Windows 10 Edge browser, and it keeps losing some of my "favorites" (more commonly known as bookmarks.) Why is this happening?

Dan Rakitnichan, Plymouth

A: This has been a longtime problem with Microsoft's Edge browser. There doesn't appear to be a solution except to continuously backup and restore your favorites (see tinyurl.com/y4n8qhxb and tinyurl.com/yxpf4zz9). Microsoft has said it is redesigning Edge. But rather than wait, try a different browser, such as Google Chrome (see tinyurl.com/y4hebmot) or Mozilla Firefox (see tinyurl.com/bsxs3kt).

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ABOUT THE WRITER

Steve Alexander covers technology for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Readers may write to him at Tech Q&A, 425 Portland Ave. S., Minneapolis, Minn. 55488-0002; email: steve.j.alexander@gmail.com. Please include a full name, city and phone number.

Visit Star Tribune (Minneapolis) at www.startribune.com

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