Is it Really Worth Updating to the Latest Operating System?

June 29, 2016

Are you running the latest operating system on all your work and personal devices? Is it worth it? It’s the mental question we ask ourselves every time an updated OS is released. Let’s settle this once and for all.

I’ve found myself there too. Delaying the decision for months. Making excuses for why it’s better to keep with the operating system version I have.

There is always a nagging doubt, though, that my inaction isn’t the smartest choice after all.

OS creators build and launch new versions that are meant to be better than the previous one, right?

So why is it that we don’t always keep up to date with the latest operating system? Is it worth doing so?

To help answer these questions, I turned to my coworkers to conduct a small survey of the pros and cons for updating OS’s.

The Cons of Updating (Or so we think)

Do any of these arguments sound familiar to you?

  • Updating OS’s is wasted effort as long as the system is running
  • The version I’m using has everything I need
  • There will be compatibility problems with software and hardware
  • New OS versions have bugs and stability issues
  • A new operating system UI will mean I’ll have to re-learn how to interact with it

Yikes. Every reason there is one I know has passed through my mind at one point or another.

But do they stand up to scrutiny? Are these justified detractions from updating to the latest OS, or are these comfortable excuses?

Let’s investigate each in turn.

Wasted effort while the system is running

wasted-effort

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Why on Earth would we spend time and energy updating a machine’s OS when it’s still running fine?

Instead, we could spend that time doing something useful. Right?

Well – it depends on how you look at it.

While your system might be ‘running fine’ – that’s not to say that the effort spent in updating it isn’t outweighed by all the hidden efforts we spend to maintain usage of our devices.

Is Time and Energy Wasted on Daily Tasks?

Looking at your regular usage of your devices at work and at home on a daily basis, would you say that there is no room for optimization?

That is to say – is time wasted in completing any tasks? The latest operating systems often focus on optimizing exactly those processes.

When I cast my mind back, I remember years spent double clicking shortcuts on the desktop to open up the programs I needed.

Any time I wanted to open another program (a dangerous exercise in days before dual-core processors!) I’d have to minimize all windows before laboriously finding the icon I want.

Thankfully, modern OS’s have made this practice a thing of the past – with quick bars and keyboard shortcuts.

So, can we say that we’re not currently wasting effort?

Wasted Effort on Cleaning up Malware

Malware infections can be a real pain. Cleaning up things like computer viruses can really ruin your day.

Hours if not days can be spent in ensuring devices are clear of Malware once an infection takes hold.

Older operating systems do not receive security updates to prevent the latest Malware strains from dealing damage.

Which means we open ourselves up to the risk of needing to spend all the time and effort associated with cleaning up after a Malware infection by using an older OS.

The latest operating systems, on the other hand, are constantly updated to safeguard security. Saving us all the time and energy as a result.

How Much Effort Does an Update Require Anyway?

Just how much time does an OS update take anyway? It could be as little as an hour for the operating system itself.

Add on an hour or two for other updates required and settings configuration, and you’re up to three hours.

Compare that to incremental time lost on a daily basis, and the huge hits of downtime following a Malware infection and the time-wasted argument begins to fall apart.

Current version has everything I need

everything-need

Why would you update to a new OS, when your current one has everything you need?

After all, most OS updates just add extra features that we don’t really need, don’t they?

It’s a compelling argument, and certainly one I’ve used before. But this type of argument has been used countless times in the face of any kind of innovation.

  • Why do I need a motorcar? This horse does just fine.
  • Why do I need a smartphone? My computer can access the Internet.
  • Why do I need an e-reader? Paper books are just fine.

While I would never dream of trying to convince George R. R. Martin to leave his DOS machine behind, I wonder if the argument for updating OS’s falls into the same trap.

Of course, updating an operating system is nothing like the same innovation as moving from a horse to a car, but arguing that it has everything we need is similar bluster.

We are naturally resistant to change. But it’s a poor excuse to fall behind.

Can You Imagine Working Without Your Favorite Features?

Can you imagine working without trackpad multi-touch gestures when working through your daily tasks?

Or using keyboard combinations to quickly find and open programs?

Or simply working with circa 2000 hardware?

All would be unimaginable now – or at least would provide significant obstacles to our ability to get work done.

Yet, a lack of trackpad gestures, keyboard shortcuts, and bulky 128mb-RAM driven hardware were once normal.

And while they may not impede your enjoyment of using Photoshop 7, they would put a roadblock in front of the Adobe Creative Cloud.

Incremental development led to our current toolset, which will seem just as antiquated in the not too distant future.

Today’s new features will allow us to more easily complete tomorrow’s tasks.

Compatibility problems with software and hardware

compatibility

Updating OS’s means that we’ll have a huge amount of software and hardware issues, doesn’t it?

At one point or another we’ve all personally or professionally experienced the pain of realizing too late that our favorite program isn’t compatible with the latest OS.

But the truth is that these days most new operating systems are compatible with drivers from previous versions. So your hardware woes can be put to rest.

It’s also in the best interest of device manufacturers to continue to support their most popular products – meaning that they should work with the latest OS.

And for software, for Windows machines at least, there’s always the handy Windows Compatibility Mode. Essentially a way to mimic an older OS in order to run software.

So you can keep playing Dungeon Keeper and Red Alert, no worries there. And for work-related tasks, most software used in a professional environment is updated and optimized for the latest OS versions.

This means that actually by running the software on an older OS, you’re missing out on functionality already included in your favorite software.

Compatibility with New Software and Hardware

Whereas older software and hardware is likely to be compatible with new OS’s, the same isn’t always true when purchasing new software and hardware.

If you find yourself in need of a new office printer – not an unlikely scenario – you might find it difficult to find a new machine that is compatible with older OS’s.

At which point your hand may be forced on the OS update issue. And who’s to say that minutes before a mail needs to be sent out is the perfect moment to discover your shiny new printer won’t communicate with your computers?

New OS’s have bugs and stability issues

bugs

At release, the latest OS’s are full of bugs and stability issues, right?

It’s true that any new software release is almost always followed by reports of bugs, or sometimes stability issues.

But – older operating systems aren’t free from bugs. Crashes and blue screens of death are more common with some older OS’s.

And the bugs that exist on those older OS’s are no longer supported with patches or fixes. Meaning there’s no hope that the situation will improve in the future.

Whereas producers of operating systems regularly release bug fixes for the latest OS’s, meaning that a short time after release, many of the potential problems we’d experience have already been ironed out.

That being said, the majority of us don’t run into these problems. Often bugs crop up during specific uses of the software, rather than during the regular day-to-day usage most of us put OS’s through.

So, even if you’re worried by potential bugs and issues of new OS’s – waiting a few months after the initial release before updating should mean we avoid them.

It’s not an excuse that can justify our aversion to updating long-term.

New UI means re-learning how to interact

new-ui

I hold my hands up. After a software update, I get a bit cranky if I notice that the program’s layout has been overhauled.

It feels like a real pain not to be able to quickly jump around the screen to get it to do what I need it to.

But I’ll also admit that often my initial reaction is unnecessary. Because it really does not take long before I’m used to the new layout.

I think we can all relate to this feeling somewhat. It’s a barrier we put up at the start, which soon dissolves.

And often we end up far happier with the new UI which has been developed with our ease-of-use in mind.

Once up to speed with the new UI, we get things done far more quickly than with the previous version.

There was a time when I lived in the Start menu items. Now, with intelligent search functions I’m faster than I ever was before in finding files, folders, and programs I need.

On a subjective note – I think there’s also something to be said about not falling into a long-term rut of UI interaction.

Learning to use new features and a new UI of any updated software helps keep the mind fit and agile!

Key Takeaways

We all make excuses for not updating our systems. Some reluctances are the result of past experiences. Others the result of preconceptions.

But the benefits of updating far outweigh the negatives. The latest operating system:

  • Saves you huge amounts of time in your daily work
  • Provides you with new abilities to tackle your work tasks
  • Enhances the software tools you’re already using
  • Regularly provides patches and fixes for any bugs
  • Has a UI further optimized for ease of use

Convinced? Me too.

By the way – you still have time until the 29th July, 2016 to update to Windows 10 for free.

Did you know you can also update your devices remotely using TeamViewer? There’s no excuses left. Make sure to take advantage of the opportunity to update for free.

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