Your computer’s operating system is the most integral part of how your machine functions. It determines how you view and launch programs, how stable software runs, and how your desktop looks and functions. Whether you’re nursing a trusty Windows XP machine or have resigned yourself to living with Vista, the prospect of “upgrade windows” can be daunting. There are a number of reasons to consider making the leap.
Let’s face it, change isn’t always good. Anyone using Windows Vista can attest to that. It seems Microsoft is doomed to release a dud every decade; before Vista it was ME (Millennium Edition). No one would blame you for being wary of Windows 7, but it’s legit – I promise. If you’re one of the millions that still haven’t made the leap to Windows 7, here is why you should consider a windows upgrade:
Microsoft ended Mainstream Support for Windows XP in 2009 and Vista earlier this year. While there is still Extended Support to ensure that they will release patches for security holes (at least eventually), this means that there will be no more Service Packs or updates to fix general use glitches and bugs. While they are not completely abandoning support of XP and Vista, Microsoft will focus more on maintaining the existing OS (Windows 7) and developing the next generation (Windows 8 ) than proactively fixing software they want you to upgrade. This means that older operating systems become more susceptible to viruses and malicious code as patches are longer in coming.
New software programs are written for Windows 7. If you haven’t already found a program that isn’t compatible with your older operating system, that day is coming. Every piece of hardware that runs on your machine, from internal components like graphics cards to external components like monitors and printers, have software (known as “drivers”) that allows it to be recognized by your operating system. When the time comes to replace a piece of supporting hardware, you may find that there are not drivers to make it run on your machine.
Many users that are resistant to upgrading windows live with annoying errors and system crashes. These are often caused by bugs that are no longer a priority for Microsoft to fix, or incompatibility between a newer software program or device and your older operating system. Upgrading windows will typically fix these glitches.
More and more programmers are moving to Windows 7’s 64-bit architecture. Comparing XP’s 32-bit to 64-bit is like comparing a go-cart to a car. Both get you where you need to go, eventually, but the car will be more stable, faster and last you longer.
You may be wondering why I’d suggest you move to Windows 7 when Windows 8 is slated to release before the end of the year. When it comes to Microsoft operating systems, there’s no prize for being an early adopter. Windows 8 is dramatically different from all previous versions of Windows in appearance and functionality, being more like the interface you may be used to seeing on a mobile touch screen device (think, tablet or Smartphone). There are inevitably going to be early holes and bugs. Why give yourself the headache of finding them for Microsoft?
Finally, there is a small risk that the release of Windows 8 will make it harder to upgrade to Windows 7. When Microsoft released Vista it immediately stopped shipping XP. Consumer anger eventually persuaded them to allow Dell and other distributors to offer buyers a choice between XP and Vista when buying new machines, but if they follow the same model with Windows 8 you may miss out on the stability of Windows 7 if your system requires upgrading after the release of the new OS.
About The Author: Andrea Eldridge is CEO and co-founder of Nerds On Call, a computer repair company that specializes in on-site and online service for homes and businesses. Andrea is the writer of a weekly column, Nerd Chick Adventures in The Record Searchlight. She prepares TV segments for and appears regularly on CBS, CW and FOX on shows such as Good Day Sacramento, More Good Day Portland, and CBS 13 News, offering viewers technology and lifestyle tips. See Andrea in action at callnerds.com/andrea/.