Should You Upgrade Windows?

June 15, 2012

Just because a new version of Windows comes out doesn’t mean you have to upgrade. If the new version has features you need or want, then that is certainly a compelling reason to upgrade. But most of us don’t have a compelling reason. And some of us have a compelling reason not to upgrade.

When Windows 95 came out, it was such a vast improvement over Windows 3.1 that it was very compelling to upgrade to Windows 95. Windows 98 wasn’t very compelling, but Windows 98 Second Edition had a feature that was very compelling. Plug and Play. Very helpful. Windows 2000 wasn’t all that compelling. Like Windows 95, Windows XP was a vast improvement over previous versions of Windows, so it was pretty compelling to upgrade to XP.

When Vista came out, there was a compelling reason not to upgrade. The reason was Vista was slow had a lot of problems. Microsoft eventually fixed most of the problems with Vista, but the damage was done and Windows 7 was released. However, if you had Windows XP, there wasn’t really a lot of compelling reasons to upgrade to Windows 7. If you had Vista and were having trouble with it, that was a compelling reason to upgrade to Windows 7, but if your Vista system was working OK, there wasn’t much reason to upgrade.

One compelling reason to upgrade your version of Windows is when Microsoft stops releasing security updates for it. When that happens, it’s important to move to a newer version of Windows. Sometimes that means upgrading your current computer. Sometimes that means getting a new computer. Right now if you are using any version of Windows prior to Windows XP, you should get a new computer as soon as possible.

If you are using Windows XP, it’s a little more complicated. You should move to a newer version of Windows before April 2014 because that’s when Microsoft will stop releasing security updates for Windows XP. However, how you get to a newer version of Windows depends on how old your computer is.  If your computer is less than five years old, it might be able to run Windows 7. You might need  to upgrade the RAM, but it can probably run it. However, you can’t just upgrade. You have to backup your computer, wipe it clean, install Windows 7, and then restore your data and reinstall all of your programs. You can upgrade from XP to Vista without having to wipe out your data, but you may still have to upgrade your RAM. In addition, you can’t find the Vista Upgrade in local stores so you’ll have to buy it online. If you do upgrade your computer to Vista, be sure and install all of the Windows Updates.

Now we are on the cusp of the release of Windows 8. Is there a compelling reason to upgrade to Windows 8? In a word, no. There are some cool things in Windows 8, but there are some huge annoyances too. And the learning curve for your average computer user is going to be big. So big, it might be frustrating for some people. So for many people there might be a compelling reason not to upgrade to Windows 8. And you already know that we don’t recommend anyone upgrade to Windows 8 when it first comes out.

By the way, if you are planning on getting a new computer in the next year, I would recommend getting a new computer this year, once Windows 8 is out, it will get harder and harder to find new computers in local stores with Windows 7. It won’t happen overnight. But by March it might starting getting hard to find new computers with Windows 7 on them. That is, unless Windows 8 turns out to be another Vista. But I don’t think that will be the case.

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