Upgrade Cycle

I’ve had my computer for almost 3 years and traditionally I’ve always set about upgrading and updating my system every 3 years. This is to ensure the computer will run all the latest software, and its a fantastic way of cleaning up the PC (I honestly cannot be bothered to reformat, etc.)

DOS 

My first PC ran DOS 6.0. It had a 5.25inch floppy reader only and didn’t do a lot but I remember programming in Microsoft QuickBasic. It was really nice and I got the hang of DOS without too many problems. It did word processing and printed out on a nice ribbon printer.

Windows 95 

Eventually we got a new PC (166MHz Pentium 2?) with Windows 95 and all kinds of nice graphical software. This was before the internet and I actually missed DOS cos you couldn’t just turn the computer off and I didn’t have my Quick Basic. But there were all kinds of cool programs you could get off the cover CDs of PC magazines to try out. We did get onto the internet from Windows 95 eventually, after spending absolutely ages trying to set up the modem.

Windows ME 

The next upgrade was the infamous Windows ME (1GHz Pentium 3). It crashed several times daily but I didn’t complain because I experienced that on Windows 95. ME got very very slow after a few years of usage, probably because of the huge amount of junk I was installing from cover CD roms and downloading from the internet.

Upgrading to Windows XP Linux… 

There really was no compelling reason to switch to XP back in those days except from stability. On ME, everything did work and I really didn’t see the benefit of XP. In fact, the only reason I upgraded my PC to the current one was because the hard drive on the old computer couldn’t be partitioned to install Linux. The main reason for upgrading my PC was to be able to use Linux.

The current PC has run all kinds of operating systems. Windows XP mainly but brief flirtations with Mandrake, Gentoo, Ubuntu, Solaris, ReactOS but nothing has ever tempted me away from XP. I do like XP – it’s relatively stable and it’s not immensely buggy or full of security holes.

Software

The software I use is still pretty old – Paint Shop Pro 7, Office 2000.

I see absolutely no good reason to upgrade to newer versions of these softwares, and open source has allowed me to upgrade or to replace some of the older programs on my system with free and superior alternatives.

It’s reached the point in the upgrade cycle where I normally upgrade my computer. It’s a logical time to upgrade, with the release of Windows Vista, and the release of new processors from Intel last year. The thing is, an upgrade isn’t compelling.

XP works fine. All an operating system needs to do is to be able to run software and to work with hardware. XP does both of these. There are no essential Vista-only programmes, and many of the technologies from Vista such as XAML work in Windows XP.

Office 

I’m certainly not shelling out a few hundred pounds for an upgrade to the Office suite either. Office 2007 has a steep learning curve for not much benefit. I know how Word 2000 works. I don’t desire any more from it. It works. I don’t want to have to relearn it all.

I’ve also found that Excel 2007 actually makes it harder for me to do many things – perhaps it’s my lack of familiarity but once again I already know how to do it in Excel 2000 and I don’t desire any of these other features. But if Excel 2007 is going to draw histograms or box plots from statistical data in frequency distribution tables then I’m all for.

OpenOffice.org isn’t an attractive upgrade path either as it will require retraining and once again does not provide any features I want. I can see myself using my copy of Office 2000 for another 5 years or so, maybe more.

Why upgrade?

So the question I put out to all of you is this: why should I upgrade my PC? How is Vista a useful upgrade when 99% of the time I spend on a computer is within a few programs, all of which work equally well on XP? What are the benefits of shelling out for an upgrade when hardware or software isn’t even guaranteed to work?

Do you recommend upgrading today or holding on? 

5 thoughts on “Upgrade Cycle

  1. My thoughts are shared in a blog post about the subject *plug*. I love Office 2007 and will continue to use the beta until the end of March but I won’t have any trouble letting it go when it’s time. Hundreds of pounds for Office 2007 is really quite insane I must agree. I know they’ve spent a lot of time and money on it but they must have been at the party when they set the price tag!

    Summary: Unless you’re still using a Pentium 3 or below, there’s really no need to upgrade. Also, if you’re happy with your setup and everything works, again there’s no need.

  2. Hm… I don’t know, but I don’t see any real advantage in Vista… "increased security, features, reliability" – I read that when I installed 98… and XP. And I will probably read it again and again.
    Of course, Microsoft needs to sell Vista, so they praise it like it was a newly created God, but as a "normal" user you sure won’t need it. You shouldn’t be asking "should I update?" but rather "what do I _need_ that doesn’t work on my PC now?".
    This ensures that you don’t buy things for features you don’t need. It’s like buying a huge four wheels in a city where a smaller vehicle would be better. 

    Like Ramble pointed out, if you’re a hardcore gamer DX10 is clearly a plus, although MS might still provide DX10 for XP because nobody cares for updating. 

    I would at least wait until VistaAntispy is out and would only get it with a new PC. From what I’ve seen, I know that upgrading XP->Vista is a pain in the ass and half a dozen drivers won’t work and so on… 

  3. Because of increased security, features, reliability, and yes, the new interface.
    DX10 is also a big point for many of the gamers I know.

    It really is far more stable, and for a poweruser like me, rather useful as it ships with quite a few useful tools. Maybe if you had actually used it you may change your mind.

    Just get it with a new computer.

  4. i used to use windows xp, then i decided to buy a mac.
    i hated it at first, 2 days past and i loved it. it is vista plus more and if u get an intel 1 u can have windows anyway (not like u will want it after OS X) but next time u go into a computer store use a mac 4 20 mins and i bet u will find @ least 1 thing which u will love!
    Every1 try a mac, then buy a mac!

  5. I purchased a desktop preloaded with Vista in the spring of 07. I used it for about 6 months and hated it. Why would Microsoft release something so buggy. When it came time to replace my latptop in winter of 07 I opted for Windows XP.

    Even after a year of downloading patches for Vista it still flakes out more often then XP does, plus I can’t run half of my old programs.

    Is it me or is XP still better then Vista?

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