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reasons not to upgrade operating systemWe all seem obsessed with having the latest and greatest technology Thou Shalt Consume: The Story of Consumer Electronics [Feature] Thou Shalt Consume: The Story of Consumer Electronics [Feature] Every year, exhibitions around the world present new high tech devices; expensive toys that come with many promises. They aim to make our lives easier, more fun, super connected, and of course they are status... Read More . 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 4 Tips To Help You Fix The Windows Blue Screen Error 4 Tips To Help You Fix The Windows Blue Screen Error Read More 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 Why Do Apps Nag Me To Update & Should I Listen? [Windows] Why Do Apps Nag Me To Update & Should I Listen? [Windows] Software update notifications seem like a constant companion on every computer. Every app wants to update regularly, and they nag us with notifications until we give in and update. These notifications can be inconvenient, especially... Read More 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 Australian Police Warn Drivers Not To Rely On Apple's iOS 6 Maps App [Updates] Australian Police Warn Drivers Not To Rely On Apple's iOS 6 Maps App [Updates] Police in the Australian state of Victoria have recently warned drivers about the potential dangers of relying on Apple's notoriously unfinished Maps app bundled with iOS 6. In a news story posted on the Victorian... Read More wasn’t good enough were left scrambling for a decent mapping app, with James temporarily switching to an Android phone Why My Next Phone Is Not An iPhone, From An Apple Fanboy [Opinion] Why My Next Phone Is Not An iPhone, From An Apple Fanboy [Opinion] I have been called an Apple fanboy on numerous occasions, so I may as well accept the moniker and move on. Yes, I love Apple products, and I shudder at the thought of touching Windows.... Read More just so he could use Google Maps.

reasons not to upgrade operating system

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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 Reliably Navigate With Google Maps For iPhone Reliably Navigate With Google Maps For iPhone Most of you know about Google Maps. It's Google's Rocky Balboa, the comeback after that new kid on the block showed up - Apple Maps. It's a great app, and it's so great that it... Read More . 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 The Best PVR: Windows Media Center! The Best PVR: Windows Media Center! Despite the perceived image of Microsoft as a lumbering beast with bloated software that ships full of bugs, they have actually produced some fine software over the years. Today I’d like to highlight Windows Media... Read More and upgrade to the standard edition of Windows 8 Which Windows 8 Version Is For You? Which Windows 8 Version Is For You? If you’re interested in upgrading, you’ll also need to know which edition of Windows 8 is right for you. The good news is that Microsoft has simplified the different editions of Windows in Windows 8... Read More , 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 How To Upgrade Your Laptop In a Flash: Add a New Hard Drive & Increase RAM How To Upgrade Your Laptop In a Flash: Add a New Hard Drive & Increase RAM Laptops are not as easy to upgrade as desktops. Many components are simply soldered on to the motherboard and others, though technically replaceable, are restricted by technical skill and cost. There are, however, two upgrades... Read More – a solid-state drive or some more RAM will offer more speed improvements.

why not upgrade

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 Have Office 2010? Don't Buy Office 2013 - Here's Why Have Office 2010? Don't Buy Office 2013 - Here's Why I’m coming to the end of my trial period with Microsoft Office 2013. Over the weeks it has been a reasonably solid experience with one or two quirks causing me no end of frustration. But... Read More . 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 LibreOffice - A Free Office Suite For Windows, Linux & Mac LibreOffice - A Free Office Suite For Windows, Linux & Mac Read More . 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.

why not upgrade

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 Sought-After iOS 6.1 Jailbreak Is Finally Available [Updates] Sought-After iOS 6.1 Jailbreak Is Finally Available [Updates] The day iOS jailbreakers have longed for is finally here. That's right, iOS 6.1 is finally ready for a full, untethered jailbreak. Thanks to the new evasi0n jailbreak from the Evad3rs dev team, including PlanetBeing,... Read More 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 Printing Has Changed In Windows 8: Here's What You Need To Know Printing Has Changed In Windows 8: Here's What You Need To Know Printing has changed in Windows 8 – there’s now a standard way of printing in every Modern app. However, like many things about Microsoft’s new Modern interface, printing is not immediately intuitive for many users,... Read More 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.

why not upgrade

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 Start Menu, How I Miss Thee: 4 Ways To Make A Start Menu On Windows 8 Start Menu, How I Miss Thee: 4 Ways To Make A Start Menu On Windows 8 Windows 8 brought down the axe on the Start Menu. This is a feature that no one paid special attention to for years but its untimely demise has caused all sorts of despair. Not only... Read More .

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.

reasons not to upgrade operating system

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 6 Ways Microsoft Is Killing The Traditional Desktop In Windows 8 [Opinion] 6 Ways Microsoft Is Killing The Traditional Desktop In Windows 8 [Opinion] The traditional desktop is still around in Windows 8, and it’s probably the best Windows desktop yet (aside from not having a Start menu.) But Microsoft is setting it up for the kill. The writing... Read More 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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