When to Upgrade

 


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It seems that you have no sooner purchased your new computer software or hardware than a new faster, more powerful version with more features either hits the market or is announced.

It just isn't possible to keep up with the high speed changes that are occurring in the computer industry. Back in the 60s it looked like processing power would double every eighteen months for the next ten to fifteen years (this is what became known as Moore's Law). Surprisingly, this has continued to apply not just for ten to fifteen years that Moore originally expected but for well over thirty years with no end in sight yet.

In addition to this the rest of the computer hardware (with the possible exception of hard drive speed) has also kept pace and you can but a cheap computer now with specifications that by far exceed even the most optimistic expectations of the most advanced machine that people just a few years ago imagined we would achieve.

Computer software has become much more user friendly and feature enriched at the cost of requiring much greater computing power but this computing power is available with the latest hardware. There is a relationship between computer hardware and computer software in terms of what software can be successfully run on what hardware. If you try to run the latest software on an older computer, it either wont run at all, or it will run so slowly as to not be worth the effort. You need to keep this in mind when a software upgrade becomes necessary because if your hardware is insufficient then a hardware upgrade (or replacement) will also be required. This may dramatically add to the cost of even a simple software upgrade.

You really need to ask yourself just what you are upgrading the software for. What benefit do you achieve by upgrading? Do you require the additional features of the latest version, are they useful but not essential, or are they totally useless to you given the way you use the product. There is no reason to upgrade just because the software company has released a new version. You should wait to upgrade until you need to, because the current version you are running can't handle all of your requirements any more, or because the new version has some essential feature that you require.

You might upgrade your word processor because the people who are sending you files have a later version and you need that version to be able to read the files they are sending you. You might not upgrade your spreadsheet program because for the little use that you have made of it the really old version you've got is quite sufficient (of course if you get a really good deal on an office suite you might find it cheaper to upgrade the whole lot rather than just one or two programs).

On the other hand, the old version of the software may have features that you need that no longer exist or are not as easy to use in the latest version. In this case you might have all the incentive in the world not to upgrade.

Stephen Chapman runs a computer help website at http://www.felgall.com/
Internet design/development ebooks and software at http://members.felgall.com/
Javascript help at http://javascript.about.com/

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