Step Off The Treadmill – 8 Reasons Not To Upgrade Your OS

windows me logo   Step Off The Treadmill   8 Reasons Not To Upgrade Your OSWe all seem obsessed with having the latest and greatest technology. Some people buy every new and upgraded smartphone or iPad that comes out, even if they don’t need the upgrade. It’s become a given – of course we’ll upgrade to the latest operating system and any other software that’s offered to us. Why wouldn’t we?

In reality, there are lots of good reasons to be skeptical of operating system upgrades. Ask anyone who installed Microsoft’s Windows ME over their Windows 98 systems and was unable to use Windows ME’s shiny new features because their computer started blue-screening all the time (this happened to me!), This is an example of why upgrading for the sake of upgrading isn’t a good idea.

This doesn’t apply to security updates such as the ones available via Windows Update, of course. You should always install security updates as soon as possible.

Missing Features

New versions of operating systems and other software may remove features you depend on in your current operating system. One of the most recent and significant examples was Apple’s iOS 6. iOS 6 removed Google Maps, which many users depended on, and introduced Apple’s “most powerful mapping service ever,” which offered much less coverage throughout most of the world and no public transit directions.

iOS users who upgraded immediately and found Apple Maps wasn’t good enough were left scrambling for a decent mapping app, with James temporarily switching to an Android phone just so he could use Google Maps.

maps hongkong   Step Off The Treadmill   8 Reasons Not To Upgrade Your OS

iOS users who hung back and stuck with iOS 5 because it suited their needs could continue using Google Maps. Google eventually released a Google Maps app for iOS 6. At this point, iOS users could upgrade to the latest version without ever losing access to Google Maps.

When upgrading, be sure you’re not giving up a feature you depend on – there’s no point in getting a shiny new OS that doesn’t do what you need it to do. You may want to wait until the new operating system suits you, as people held onto iOS 5 until Google Maps was ready.

If you love Windows Media Center and upgrade to the standard edition of Windows 8, you’ll have to upgrade to the Pro version and then buy the Windows Media Center software separately, which will cost you over $100 in total to keep using the feature you depend on. If you use Windows XP Mode on Windows 7 Pro, you’ll have to migrate to another virtual machine solution on Windows 8. New operating systems don’t just add features, they also take them away.

Price

Upgrading to the latest version of Windows can be rather pricy. Buying an upgrade edition of Windows 8 will currently cost you $120. Windows 8 may be faster to boot and a bit snappier than the previous versions of Windows, but if you’re upgrading just for that speed improvement, you’d be a lot better off using that $120 for a hardware upgrade – a solid-state drive or some more RAM will offer more speed improvements.

windows 8 upgrade price   Step Off The Treadmill   8 Reasons Not To Upgrade Your OS

This doesn’t apply to all operating systems, as some upgrades are available for free, but the cost of upgrading should be taken into account. You’ll probably get the new operating system when you buy a new computer anyway, so why shell out additional money for an expensive software upgrade now?

This also applies to other software, like Microsoft Office. We’ve advised you not to buy Office 2013 if you already have Office 2010. It isn’t a big enough upgrade, and you can do most things on Office 2010. In truth, many home users would be fine with the ten-year-old Office 2003, cloud-based Google Docs, or free LibreOffice. The upgrade probably isn’t worth the price.

Instability

Some new operating systems are half-baked. Witness Microsoft’s Windows ME, notorious for its blue-screens, bugs, and crashes. Also consider Windows Vista, which was unstable in its initial release. Vista may have been unstable because hardware manufacturers hadn’t yet polished their hardware drivers to a stable enough state, but that’s all the more reason to hang back and wait until the new OS stabilizes.

Businesses often wait for the first service pack to fix problems before upgrading to a new version of Windows, and you may want to do so, too. Windows 8 doesn’t appear as unstable as past releases of Windows, but you should bear in mind that new operating systems can be less stable than old ones and act accordingly when the next buggy operating system is inevitably released.

windows blue screen   Step Off The Treadmill   8 Reasons Not To Upgrade Your OS

Performance

Performance is becoming less of a concern, as new Windows versions are lighter and better-performing than previous ones. However, devices that could run the previous versions of software may not have the hardware to run the most recent versions at a reasonable enough speed.

For example, many Windows XP systems could never have been upgraded to the heavier Windows Vista without dramatic performance decreases. Users of old iPhones often claim new versions of Apple’s iOS makes the older iPhone hardware progressively slower, even as they add new features.

Software Incompatibilities

Some software won’t work on new operating systems. In iPhone land, a jailbreak was unavailable for iOS 6 for quite a while. If you depended on jailbreak software, you should have waited until a jailbreak for iOS 6 was ready before upgrading from iOS 5. This cycle will likely repeat itself with iOS 7.

On Windows, some businesses may have business-critical software that doesn’t work on new versions of Windows. Businesses with large computer deployments generally test their software to make sure it runs properly on new versions of Windows before upgrading, and you should exercise similar caution with your important software.

Hardware Incompatibilities

New operating systems may be incompatible with hardware you still use. For example, Windows 8 includes a revamped printing system that requires printer-driver upgrades. Your existing printer may not work properly on Windows 8. Is it really worth upgrading if you have to throw out a perfectly good printer and buy a new one? You’ll likely have to upgrade eventually as you buy new hardware, but it may be time to buy a new printer by then, anyway.

Your Current OS is Supported

In the case of Windows, Microsoft supports old versions of Windows for quite a long time. Windows XP is still currently “supported” — it will receive security updates from Microsoft until April 8, 2014. Windows 7 will be supported with security updates until 2020.

When it comes to Windows, there’s no need to rush along to the latest version when Microsoft supports each version of Windows with security fixes for a decade.

windows version support dates   Step Off The Treadmill   8 Reasons Not To Upgrade Your OS

Training Costs

Businesses will run into training costs if they attempt to upgrade to a new operating system. Windows 7, which wasn’t hugely different from Windows XP, still required businesses to train their employees in the way it worked. Windows 8 has a radically different interface and will require businesses to train their employees about its new “Modern” interface and lack of a Start menu.

You’re probably not in charge of a business network, but you’ll have to train yourself (and possibly your family members) in the way a new operating system works if you upgrade to it. If you’re a tech geek, this may sound like fun, but if you’re just trying to get work done on your computer, this may just waste your time.

windows 8 metro   Step Off The Treadmill   8 Reasons Not To Upgrade Your OS

You May Still Want to Upgrade

We’re not advising you never to upgrade your operating system. Instead, we’re trying to get you to slow down and examine operating system upgrades rationally. Is there a significant benefit to upgrading? What are the downsides? What will it cost you, in addition to the time needed to perform the upgrade and set up your system again? Can you use all your software after you’re done, or will you need to hunt down replacements? What about your hardware? Is the new operating system worth the upgrade, or is it missing critical features, unstable, or slow?

Exercise some thought and you won’t end up with an unstable computer, a smartphone that can’t use Google Maps, or a desktop computer with a “touch-first” interface designed for tablets that you don’t want.

Thanks to our readers for their interesting discussion over at MakeUseOf Answers, which inspired this article. Feel free to chime in in the comments with your own opinions!

Image Credit: David Pursehouse on Flickr

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31 Comments -

Richard Borkovec

If you use Ubuntu, there’s pretty much no reason to not upgrade minus instability between the LTS releases. If you want stability, stay LTS to LTS releases. If you want the latest Ubuntu has to offer, go for every release :)

dragonmouth

If you want REAL stability in Linux, you should use plain Debian. It is nowhere near any edge (cutting, bleeding or any other) but is so stable that it make Ubuntu LTS look like an experimental distro. :-)

Tim Brookes

Interesting. While I agree about ME (and Windows 8 for those who are still happy with Windows 7), I would always upgrade to the latest version of iOS straight away. Personally I thought the Apple Maps incident was blown a bit out of proportion and iOS 6 had plenty of other improvements over the previous version to warrant an upgrade. Security improvements being one, stability being another, compatibility with apps as well as general polish and improvement to core apps all made it worth the jump. iOS upgrades are also free and it never takes long before there will be a slew of apps that depend on the new version to function at all. When people don’t upgrade because of media hysteria about things like maps, app developers have to drag their heels and app reviews are filled with erroneous “doesn’t work1!!!!” comments.

But I agree with everything else. My girlfriend is still on the last version of OS X because she doesn’t use her MacBook enough to bother upgrading, and it’s fine. I haven’t bothered with Windows 8 on a VM or a physical machine because 7 is all I need at present, particularly running OS X as a primary OS. If it’s going to cost you and you’re not going to use it, leave it till you absolutely have to upgrade. Then again you’re always going to get the cutting edge kids who have to have the latest and greatest, which I think is more of a cultural trend than it is a desire for tons of stuff.

Oh yeah – and they should kill support for Vista in 2014 and keep Windows XP supported till 2017 instead. Actually just re-release XP in a vintage collector’s edition in an old-school PC box with a fold-out poster of the Bliss background. I’d buy it.

Scott M

“Oh yeah – and they should kill support for Vista in 2014 and keep Windows XP supported till 2017 instead. Actually just re-release XP in a vintage collector’s edition in an old-school PC box with a fold-out poster of the Bliss background. I’d buy it.”
A great comment and could’t agree more about support for the XP.

Chris Hoffman

Depends. If you primarily use your iPhone for navigation directions and you live in a city without Apple Maps support or you need public transit directions, it would have been a good idea to wait. If you love a certain jailbreak tweak, the same goes for you.

Even if you love Windows 8, what if you depend on Media Center — it would cost you over $200 to upgrade and keep Media Center. That’s crazy.

Lisa Santika Onggrid

We certainly behaves differently when it comes to mobile. Just like more people are likely to update their mobile apps, more people are likely to update their mobile OS right away. I think it’s because update is easier and your data is generally safe.

null

I learn from different things. Something you use a particular app or software that just does not work with an update and you can end up feeling like a headless chicken. I like to wait and read up before I do anything. Let the people sort out their bugs and ish. PS So glad I skipped out on that Vista fiasco.

Patrick J

Upgrading my computer has always been a pain in the butt for me, especially the upgrading the OS part. I am recently upgraded my much older desktop and now since it doesn’t have great graphics (it is bare minimum!), the overall experience has become much worse. Also, ‘moving’ the applications to the newer install is also challenging.

One more thing, Microsoft has done a bad thing by supporting their newer versions of software (like IE) only for the ‘newer OS’ like Vista and 7. This is surely one of the reasons for users shifting from IE to other browsers.

Also, as Richard suggested, it is a good idea to stick to the LTS versions, but you never know if the company throws in completely new and exciting features in the newer versions between the LTS releases. Like in the case of 12.10, the new features like web apps are good enough to get upgraded.

But at the end of the day, change is for good!

Eian Ampoloquio

Well everyone wants to and needs to upgrade and i’m one of them. But with my current hardware specs it’s not possible. Currently i’m using a Windows XP OS and wants to upgrade atleast Windows 7. My PC’s specs is not under the minimum requirements of Windows 7 so you already have an idea of my systems specs. Maybe and hoping within this year i could be able to if not upgrade, bought a brand new PC/Laptop that has the latest OS the market offers. Very informative article! Thanks!

Chris Hoffman

Yup, in many cases it’s best to wait for a new computer that will come with your new OS rather than paying $100+ for a Windows upgrade.

Humpster Sameasabove

I never upgrade my os, just keep going till computer quits or web sites no longer support it which gives me about 6-10yrs lol. new os’s come out they are full of bugs so if I do want it I wait a few yrs to give them time to fix them all.

Lisa Santika Onggrid

By the time you upgrade the newer version of the OS might has been released already lol. Not that it’s bad.

Humpster Sameasabove

I never upgrade my os, just keep going till computer quits or web sites no longer support it which gives me about 6-10yrs lol. new os’s come out they are full of bugs so if I do want it I wait a few yrs to give them time to fix them all.

Scott M

I have Ubuntu and XP on one of my desktop Pc’s and I would never upgrade them.I take the fine tuning updates that come along but I think perform admirably as they are.I’m in agreement with the one comment about keeping support for XP for a longer period and reducing it for Vista.I know very few people who didn’t immediately migrate to Windows7 .Vista should be allowed to slowly whither away.XP was a milestone application and deserves many more years support.

Lisa Santika Onggrid

Yeah. It’s nice to have something reliable to fall back to in case that ‘newer and shinier’ OS is acting up. I did the same when 7 came out a few years ago (skipping Vista) but since 7 worked so well with me, I think I’d upgrade the XP to 7 after this.

Chris Hoffman

Yup. Windows 7 is the new Windows XP. Windows Vista will whither away much faster, but businesses are still upgrading to and standardizing on Windows 7.

Gary Mundy

I love my toys but I feel that what I pay for should work. So OS upgrades for me are always on the back burner until I hear the bugs are worked out, about 6 mo to a year after the release date. Yes I know I’m a wimp. :~)

barney

Security concerns for older OSes are very real. One (1) of the primary reasons for upgrades is not so much new (?) features as for new security from hacks. And that applies to every extant OS. The more popular an OS becomes, the more likely someone will find a way to hack into it. Upgrades do, to some extent, protect from that. Of course, if you’re not online, that becomes a moot point, but how many of us never go online?

dragonmouth

OTOH, quite often it is the upgrades that cause problems. The developers, in their rush to get a new feature out to the users, skimp a bit on quality testing and leave it to the users to find any bugs. That security update you just installed may have opened up an unintended hole and left your system vulnerable.

barney

Oh, so true. However, most – not all, but most – upgrades have been tested for existing malware. Yeah, they may have new holes, but they’re designed for protection or enhancement. If enhancement, new liabilities are likely to emerge. If protection, it’s usually for protection against *known* malware. As we all know, the creativity of malware hackers is great. But upgrades/updates normally address known issues. Heuristics notwithstanding, We’ve never seen – nor are we likely to do so – upgrades with predictive hack resistance. But we do see upgrades with retrograde protections. Not using them is laying yourself open to _known_ attacks. There is a degree of comfort in using a system with which you’re comfortable, but the longer you use it w/o upgrades, the more jeopardy in which you place yourself. I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’.

dragonmouth

“Are you pinpointing an exact mishap?”
No, but the one you link to will do as an example. :-)

Chris Hoffman

Yes, security concerns are a big deal, which is why it’s important to use a supported OS. Windows 7 is still supported — even XP is! Even Ubuntu has a “long-term support” release that will receive security updates for a long time, just so businesses have a stable platform.

Manide

Thanks! You make me feel great as I’m still using Windows XP (with all the security updates, of course) :)

Chris Hoffman

As long as it works for you, that’s great. However, XP’s not long for this world — in less than a year, you’ll need to upgrade to keep getting those security fixes.

Saiful Zaree Johar

I’m an update/upgrade freak, it’s almost impossible not to update/upgrade. Be it Windows, Linux or Android. I even root my phone just to have JB 4.2.2, even though it’s AOSP.

Chris Hoffman

I can’t recall any Android release that wasn’t worth upgrading to. Not counting the initial release of 4.2, which omitted the month of December. (Oh, Google.)

Lisa Santika Onggrid

Simple rule: Stick with what works for you. As long as it’s still compatible with your hardware and it’s still supported anyway. If you’re using no-longer-supported-OS, then you have to be your own troubleshooter.

Chris Hoffman

Yup, as long as it works for you and is still getting updates — it would be a bad idea to keep using Windows XP in a year, just as it would be a bad idea to use Windows 98 now.

We have to keep up with the times, of course, but that doesn’t mean upgrading to every new OS on the day it’s released.

Damian Chitan

Recently I was by a friend who had a stock windows xp laptop i wanted to play a dvd . I know stock xp does not support playback of dvds it needs a codec or media player download to be able to play it …my point in all this is that sometimes the newer operating system have support for newer technology without needing a update.

null

windows 8 is fine for personal use but when it comes to corporate, it’s every techie’s nightmare! I can navigate almost anyone threw XP and 7 but 8? erm…. try and find this Icon, right now find your control panel settings and look for network connections…….. when basically its just start>network places>view network network connections> disable and enable wired network device