Upgrading software: early adoption?

Upgrading Windows

Do you always want the latest and greatest software and operating system upgrade straight away? Or are you not really bothered and quite happy to wait till later. Perhaps you aren’t even aware there’s been an upgrade. Upgrading straight away is called early adoption. I’m not an early adopter and I’ll try and give you the advantages and disadvantages of early or late upgrading.

Early adoption

The big plus of early adoption is that you get the latest functionality and bug fixes straight away. Many geeks and techies take this route but they are aware of the risks. In fact they may have been beta testers of the software before the main release. However on the downside, new bugs and glitches may be present in a new version and at worst these may hose your system. Many early adopters had difficulties with upgrading from Windows XP to Vista until problems with drivers, etc. were sorted out. The SP1 version seems to be fine for most people. I also know that quite a few people run into problems with early adoption of Windows automatic updates and just recently an iTunes upgrade led to the blue screen of death in Windows machines. I also recall Mike Smith of the Mike Tech Show podcast mentioning that an iTunes upgrade wiped his music catalogue. If you want to go the route of early adoption, best make a restore point and have all your data backed up just in case. Trouble is, making a system restore point just isn’t intuitive.system restore point Here’s a link to a useful desktop shortcut to run System Restore. Another thing to bear in mind is that quite often progressively newer software versions can become bloated and slower than older versions. The older versions may also have some useful functionality which may have been dropped from new releases.

Wait and see approach

There’s a lot to be said for this approach. Look at tech blogs and tech forums and wait and see what problems an upgrade is giving, if any, then when those are sorted out, go ahead and upgrade. How do you know when its safe? Well you don’t really know for sure, but you will have reduced your risks of running into problems. A good site reporting Microsoft and other upgrade problems is AskWoody. Ask Woody I would suggest wait until Woody says it’s okay before you upgrade Windows. However, on the downside you may be slightly delaying an important security vulnerability fix, but if you’re a careful surfer you should be okay. I’ve never had a problem.

Many people rushed in to get the latest Firefox 3.0 upgrade. In fact Mozilla created a record for downloads in one day. Well that’s fine but Firefox relies a lot on third party extensions and plug-ins and many just weren’t ready for the new release. Besides, the functionality in Firefox 2 was fine and all the plug-ins work. I’m still on Firefox 2 (which is still being upgraded) but will move to Firefox 3 soon.

On the OS front, I’m still running Windows XP and am quite happy with it. It does everything I need and I see no reason to upgrade to Vista.

Late adoption

Although you might think from what I’ve said above that late adoption is the safest approach, you would be wrong. Old and outdated software versions can have security vulnerabilities and also might not support newer hardware.

All in all, I think the best approach for beginner and intermediate users is the wait and see approach. With a new operating system, it’s often best to wait until the SP1 release if you upgrade at all, as Vista has shown. Watch Woody and the tech blogs, tech podcasts and forums, then decide when to upgrade.

Here’s a couple of websites which give good tech info presented quite simply for the beginner or intermediate tech user. Add their RSS feeds to your RSS reader.

http://www.simplepctalk.com/

http://pctechbytestoday.com/

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