I recommend Windows 7 Home or higher, compatibility issues you hear about are usually with application software such as Office 2010 versus Office 2003 not the actual Windows Operating System. Some much older softwares (generally 10+ years) may not run on the most current operating systems so you will want to check out specific software compatibility with the software vendor.
We have migrated to operating system Windows 7 in our ITS public computer labs environment. I believe getting the new operating system with your new computer is generally a smart move. I make this analogy, “Why buy a new car with an old engine?”
We currently have Office 2010 in our public computer labs. Students/faculty/staff can purchase the Office 2010 product online via their MyUNIverse account under Computer Resources. For those users of earlier versions of Office (XP & 2003) install the Compatibility Pack, see
For your information, yearly we bid for computer lab windows desktop machines and several versions of laptops and expect the vendors to extend that pricing to UNI Students/Faculty/Staff/Emeritus. Pricing has typically been extremely good on the models we request. Purchase opportunites for both PC and Apple Macintoch systems are available. We announce bid results via MyUNIverse News and UNIOnline plus through freshman and parent orientation sessions and provide current information on our purchasing website at http://www.uni.edu/its/services/pc-purchasing-support  .
Tom Peterson, ITS Director of User Services
March 5, 2012