Gadget: Microsoft Windows 7

Microsoft Windows 7(from £99.99,

With more than one billion PCs running Microsoft Windows, your PC's operating system is likely to be the gadget that you come into contact with the most. It's meant to sit there minding its own business. However, this is rarely the case. From screen freezes, the blue screen of death to a computer than runs so slow it feels like you're wading through treacle; all of these can be blamed, at least in part, on your operating system. If like me you had the misfortune of installing Windows Vista, Microsoft's last operating system, you'll most likely be looking forward to a change.

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Enter Windows 7 – with the brave claim of "Your PC, simplified". If you're running Windows XP, you'll need to back up all of your documents, photos and files and do a complete re-install to upgrade to Windows 7. This means the laborious task of installing all of your programs again. If you've got Vista, in most cases Windows 7 just means a couple of hours in the pit lane for your PC while it does all the hard work. It's worth all the hassle though. Windows 7 is blazingly fast; from starting up to searching for stuff, programs ping open with the vim of an eager beaver. Among its most useful new features are Live Taskbar Previews – peek at mini thumbnails of open windows by hovering your mouse over the taskbar. Flick through them in a second and get right to the program you need. Comparing two files side to side is now a doddle with Snap – just drag them by the edge of the screen and they auto-expand.

Windows 7 takes the pain out of PCs; quite an accomplishment. It's fast, surprisingly crash-proof and easy to use.

• This article was first published in The Scotsman on 23 January, 2010