Jump to content

Delaying Windows upgrades: Do you feel lucky?


Recommended Posts

Summary: The pending release of Windows 8.1 might have you thinking about putting off your OS upgrades. But given that Windows XP is 12 years old, a virtual eternity in the computer industry, you've got to ask yourself one question: "Do I feel lucky?"

Editor's Note: The original version of this article was published October 20, 2012. The author was an employee of IBM when it was written. It has been edited for updated content.


I know what you're thinking. "Do I really want this new Start screen? Do I want to go through a learning experience to deal with this?" Well, to tell you the truth, in all this Windows 8.1 pre-release excitement I kind of considered this myself.

But being that XP is now twelve years old, you've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?

My ZDNet colleague, Steven J. Vaughn-Nichols has suggested in the past that if you're currently using Windows XP, you should probably stick with it. He doesn't like the way Windows 8.x changes things, and feels that it offers "no real improvements over Windows 7 or XP."

I do agree with Steven that Windows 8.x does change things, and some minor adaptation by the end-user is going to be required.

There's no getting around the fact that the new Start screen with its live tiles-based UI and full-screen Windows Store apps has been a big surprise to end-users that have never encountered it before.

However, when Steven and I crossed lightsabers in the ZDNet Great Debate almost one year ago on whether if Windows 8.x should be installed on older PC's, I took the position that one should still do it despite the learning curve.

And while you cannot entirely discount the learning curve, it's not as serious as many industry pundits are making it out to be, and certainly not as confusing as some writers at more mainstream news outlets have purported it to be.

If you've been using a modern version of Windows at least since Vista or Windows 7, you've got maybe a day of adaptation to deal with and learning some new behaviors, if that.

To test this theory out, a year ago I gave the release code of Windows 8 Home Edition to my wife, who is running it on an Intel Atom-based all-in-one desktop PC with 4GB of RAM, hardly a powerful machine.

I showed her how to switch back and forth between the new Start screen and the traditional desktop, and how the new tiles UI and Windows Store works.

That took a whole 15 minutes. I haven't had one complaint since that she's gotten "lost" or is "confused" hasn't been able to get her work done.

While my wife has been using Windows for over 20 years, she's not an IT geek by any stretch of the imagination. She's just a competent end-user, which probably puts her in with the majority of people who are in the workforce and have to use and own PCs.

Sure, there are still folks who struggle with very basic concepts such the differences between folders and files, don't understand what a URL is, or know how to connect to a wireless network. No, really, these people still exist.

These are the same friends and relatives that need constant hand holding and the yearly PC software refresh and cleanup. Thanksgiving approacheth, and I suggest some of you think real carefully before offering your personal IT support services, because you will have to give these folks training. I guarantee it.

But these people probably aren't working the type of jobs that require using PCs on a daily basis and they may not even be productive members of the workforce, period. And they sure as heck aren't reading this column or any of the articles on this web site.

After all, if a 3 year-old child can figure it out, why can't a 44 year-old adult that's been using PCs in some form for their entire career?

I think we've beaten that horse enough over the last two years to make a good argument that given everything the OS offers, it's definitely a worthwhile upgrade over Windows 7 and Windows Vista. So it should be a given that it's a significant upgrade over XP.

But maybe you're still not convinced.

Obi-Vaughn says you should stay with your XP. You know what? So did I. In June of 2008. And that's when the OS was seven years old, it had its most recent Service Pack, and we were all facing the horrifying prospect of moving to Windows Vista.

That being said there's been a lot of positive changes in the last five years to Windows. The hardware support has improved tremendously and Microsoft has done a lot of great work in improving all-around system performance and efficiency.

But they've also made the OS a lot easier to continue to maintain and it is far less of a malware target due to fundamental architectural changes that have been made, beginning with Windows Vista.

I don't have to tell how much more sophisticated malware has gotten since 2008, and how inadequate XP is to being up to the task of dealing with them, particularly with Zero-Day attacks.

Windows 8.x comes with integrated antimalware in the form of Windows Defender, which completely eliminates the need for 3rd-party antivirus and antispyware software. That alone in my opinion is worth the price of admission if you're a consumer considering taking the plunge.

It is also worth mentioning that by continuing to run XP, you run the risk of eventually being abandoned by software and hardware/device vendors with future patches and updates.

Currently, the most current and standards compliant web browser you can run on XP is Google Chrome, and it's questionable as to how long the company is going to support browser builds on XP.

There's also Firefox, but again, it's an Open Source project that is going to have to make its development priorities based on limited resources and targeting the most popular OS platforms.

Additionally, if you're one of those folks or small businesses that finds themselves having to re-fresh the OS once every year or so due to some random malware infection or some other software or hardware failure (cheap PC commodity hard disks, anyone?) you've probably noticed by now that re-installing a Windows XP system and getting it up to current patch levels with all the required device drivers is an exercise that essentially throws your entire day in the toilet.

That is, unless you've purchased some kind of bare metal backup and restore system like Acronis, or you're an enterprise environment that has maintained XP master images and uses Windows Deployment Services (WDS) or some other integrated workstation build and patch management solution.

Which, by the way, is a huge investment in time and energy to continue to maintain legacy OSes like XP. Ask any desktop support person in any IT support organization, they hate it, and they hate you for continuing for make them do it.

So if you're an enterprise and have put off your Windows 7 deployments, you're just asking for more pain and continuing your exposure. Do you feel lucky? Well do ya?

If you still have concerns about upgrading, here's a simple decision matrix.

  • If you're a Windows 8 user already, the Windows 8.1 upgrade is free.
  • If you're a consumer currently using Windows 7, the need to upgrade is far less compelling than if you are a Windows XP or a Vista user, but you'll enjoy the benefits of several years of performance enhancements and bug fixes, being able to eliminate your existing antimalware suite in favor of a much more integrated solution, as well as enjoy the new Windows Store apps and integrated cloud services.
  • If you bought a Windows Vista system (or you "Downgraded" from Vista to XP) and passed on Windows 7, it's time to move on.
  • If you bought an XP system that was just on the cusp of the Windows Vista upgrade in 2008, and you passed on Vista and Windows 7, by the same token, move on.
  • If you've got an XP system that was purchased between 2001 and 2006, then you probably should be considering replacing the computer. I realize there are people out there that are hesitant to spend any kind of money on computer equipment given the economy, such as older folks with fixed incomes, but PC prices are cheaper than ever these days.

You could always breathe life into your old clunker with Linux, but if we're talking learning curves, Linux isn't even on the same planet as Windows 8.x if you've grown accustomed to using Microsoft OSes.

If you really think that the Windows 8.x Start Screen is going to give you fits, then don't even try Ubuntu. Good luck getting all your favorite Windows applications to work in that too, especially without virtualization technology.

Are you going to stick with XP and assume the risks, or are you going to take the Windows 8.1 plunge? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

:view: View: Original Article

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 8
  • Views 1.5k
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

  • bbmak


  • nglekhoi




  • MidnightDistortions


Top Posters In This Topic

Good luck finding drivers for that old 64/128 mb AGP video card. Alot of XP users only use their machines for word processing, browsing the web, etc. They don't play 3D intensive games. What's the incentive to upgrade/spend more money? The PC industry seems to have plateaued and most users are not into the upgrade every 1-2 years frenzy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Linux is their best option i think, but W7 will do nicely if they don't want to deal with the headaches. I certainly don't which is why i am moving to Linux. People including MS talk about W8 like it's the holy grail. It's not, i don't think it's the future. It's a different GUI on top of a partial W7 desktop. And people defend it like crazy. If you like it fine, but there are people who don't. I didn't see anything wrong with Vista but since people didn't like it i got W7. Didn't pay anything but $99 for a desktop PC with Vista & needless to say it was a good replacement for my laptop until i got money for a new desktop all together. That also runs W7 and i do intend to hold onto it for as long as i can then it's Linux. I got 7 more years to become Linux savvy. I don't think MS really understands the pressure some people are under. I don't have time to screw around with a new system and up to W7 has been familiar and easy to use. I speak for everyone who has had to deal with W8 or will have to deal with it when i say i don't like the direction. Won't pay a penny or even pirate it. I don't bother with the 1-2 year upgrades and if i had my laptop still, i might have just stuck with that and with XP so i call myself lucky for getting Vista and W7.

Won't move off of W7 and slowly moving to Linux, if people don't like it well that's not my problem, it's not worth paying money on a new system just to run the latest Windows. My home built PC is probably the first gaming system and i am hoping to get 20 years out of it. I don't care about playing at full resolutions although i am enjoying it while i can but after that by then things will have drastically changed and hopefully improved.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

other alternative is start using ReactOS, that looks like Windows XP and can run Windows Apps natively.

It's still in Alpha stage, which is unstable for daily tasks.

Me, too, waiting for ReactOS's stable release. But i think it won't happen until 2018+.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...