I was recently talking to a friend, he asked me which operating system (OS) I used at work and at home. I use Windows 10 Professional for both; I do have a laptop with Windows 7 Professional at home and will sometimes use it since it has old programs on it that I don’t want to upgrade or buy again.
I asked him what OS he was using, he said he thought it was Windows 7 Home Premium, but wasn’t sure since he bought the laptop a few years ago. He also has an old desktop he doesn’t use with Windows Vista. He asked if it was still possible to upgrade his laptop to Windows 10 for free. Unfortunately, the free upgrade ended last summer in July.
After our conversation, I started to think about the different operating systems people currently use, generally it is Windows 7, 8.1 or 10, but there are certainly still computers being used with XP or Vista. I get asked a lot why it is necessary to upgrade a computer, there are several reasons for it. The main reasons for using a current operating system are security, reliability, and better software compatibility.
I went to the Microsoft website to find out dates for the last five released operating systems, I wanted to share with our readers when the operating systems first became available for sale, the end of sale, and when support ended completely for the OS. The tables below show the dates of the different operating systems.
Every operating system has a lifecycle. The lifecycle begins when a product is released and ends when Microsoft no longer supports it. Knowing key dates in the lifecycle helps making informed decisions about when to upgrade or make other changes to your software.
End of support refers to the date when Microsoft no longer provides automatic fixes, updates, or online technical assistance. This is the time to make sure you have the latest available update or service pack installed. Without Microsoft support, you will no longer receive security updates that can help protect your PC from harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software that can steal your personal information. If you are going to use or continue to use an operating system that no longer has support, it is extremely important to have anti-virus installed.
End of sales refers to the date when a version of Windows is no longer shipped to retailers or Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). Examples of OEMs are Dell, HP, and Lenovo—PC manufacturers who often preinstall Windows software.
The three reasons for upgrading I listed previously are important to businesses, but should be considered by the home user too.
Companies are always on the lookout for better security products to prevent their database from being compromised. So, if needed, companies don’t waste time and upgrade their operating system for added security from hackers or malware. There is a large volume of readily available exploit kits, software tools, and software that make it easy to develop further malware for old operating systems such as XP and Vista. Upgraded operating systems are encouraged and should be bought by companies for security purposes.
With how fast our technology changes, companies must be able to cope with having the latest operating system. This ensures the company is reliable and meets the demand of their customers’ needs.
Companies invest in upgraded versions of OS to help accelerate their consumers’ businesses. Therefore upgrading your operating system is important, especially, now that most of the technology companies release products like it’s a thing to do. Additionally, keeping up with the updates has become a confusing conundrum for most users, since not everyone is bothered with the upgrade until it’s necessary and time to do so. But, the question is: when is the best time to upgrade your OS? These are the three reasons to know it’s time to upgrade your OS:
- When the manufacturer no longer supports your OS.
One critical value of acquiring an operating system is their exceptional technical support. For example, if the operating system crashes or one of the apps doesn’t work, you can easily ask for help to fix it as well. An example of which, was when Microsoft stopped offering technical assistance for XP including updates that help protect your PC.
Hackers and malware developers have a great understanding of Windows XP with over 12 years of finding and exploiting holes in the OS. Therefore, when the OS is no longer supported, your computer is vulnerable to viruses and malware.
- When most apps and software are not compatible with OS.
MySQL, iTunes, Adobe Photoshop, and Microsoft Word are just some of the frequently used applications that should be compatible with your current OS. These apps and system software might not work anymore if the operating system you’re using is already outdated.
For example, if you’re still using XP or Vista, you may still use these but you’d have limited access. In short, your work will be compromised. Ideally, these apps should be compatible with the operating system, so you could use it in full context.
- When your computer is running slow and keeps freezing up.
Often, if the operating system is outdated, there’s a tendency for the computer to slow down or freeze up. That is why technicians always ask what OS you are using. They either uninstall it or reinstall a newer version. Usually, upgrading your operating system fixes the issue. Ideally, as technology changes, the consumers must be able to cope with the transition as well. However, some companies are reluctant to do so, because of the cost or the complicated migration process.
For casual computer users, keeping in step with the fast-moving computing world can also be a frustrating challenge. When does added convenience outweigh the price of an upgrade, and the burden of readjusting to a new environment?
If you have been moving along okay with an old operating system despite Windows 10, you may feel like an upgrade is pointless. But at some point, the age of your computer’s operating system is going to start blocking you off from the rest of the world. Your files and programs won’t be compatible with what they’re using at the office anymore. You’ll find yourself envious of the speed, new features, and slick look of friends’ updated computers. What factors should you consider when deciding when to move on?
Cost, security, and the march of time
Security makes the most compelling reason to upgrade your operating system right now. If you’re still stubbornly clomping along on an OS that’s three versions or more behind the time, you’re missing out on years of important security updates for your system.
Cost can present a barrier, but it can be installed for under $150.
Another must-update situation exists if your OS version is so old that the manufacturer no longer sells or supports it. Somewhere around the five-year mark, you’ll fall off the back of the update cycle, and your system will be too old to handle further upgrades.
With updates hitting about every three years, Windows fall behind the curve in just a couple of versions. PC users still relying on Windows 95, Windows Millennium, or Windows 2000 have definitely slipped into left-behind territory, and Windows XP and Vista are also getting precariously old and cranky.
Here are some questions to ask yourself before upgrading to a new operating system.
- Beyond those essential points, ask yourself what you expect to get from an operating system upgrade.
- Is a hardware update what you really need?
- Would a good tune-up give you the performance boost you’re looking for?
- Is your computer powerful enough to run a newer version of your operating system?
- Is the rest of the software you use compatible? Will updating your operating system set off a cascade of other software updates?
- If you ever work from home, is the new version compatible with systems at work?
- Do you need or want the features a new OS version offers?
Ultimately, your operating system needs to be able to keep up with ongoing security updates and compatibility with current software. An OS released within the past five years should be up to the task. But if your computer can handle it and the price is right, the move to the most recent release may be the smartest bet.
If you are considering upgrading, but need help getting there, we can help. Pyramid Technologies offer computer sales and assisting our customers with coming up with the right solutions for their business and home.