Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Do You REALLY Need to Upgrade?

All the talk of the upcoming release of Windows Vista inspired me today. My question is not necessarily related to upgrading from Windows XP to Windows Vista. Rather, my question is do I really need to upgrade my technology at all? For example, should I upgrade from my Centrino laptop to a dual-core? Do I really need to upgrade?

Making the decision to upgrade your software or hardware required analysis. You analyzed:

  • The level of work that you did with what you had (do you just use your computer to surf the 'net and read e-mails, or do you write graphic-intensive applications)

  • Whether it really harms your productivity (do I really need to be able to play solitaire at a faster speed, or is it taking too long to create and test my Flash cartoons?

  • Whether you had enough money in your budget

  • Whether the company decided to no longer support the product because the software life cycle has run out

Based on your analysis, you made your decision to upgrade or stay the course.

Now, software companies are making it easy for us to decide. Software life cycles are shorter now, and most companies are developing their newer, supported versions around the latest hardware requirements. In some cases, if you need to upgrade your software, you may have to upgrade your hardware as well. I can't begrudge the software companies from shortening the life cycles. Trust me - it's annoying to have to support a software version that's 7 years old. However, from an end-user perspective, it's bank-breaking because as an end-user, it's possible that I have to upgrade my hardware because the newer version of the software can't run on what I have, even though my hardware may only be about 2 years old!

When it came to upgrading, I usually followed the "2-year rule" for software and "4-year rule" for hardware. I upgraded my software versions every 2 years, and I upgraded my hardware every 4 years. Now, my rule will have to change - I may have to upgrade everything every 2 years. The bright side with the hardware is a lot of the free operating systems (like the Linux distros) will run very well on older machines, so at least I can still prolong the usage life of my machines. Now if more software and drivers are available for Linux, I can completely convert.

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