Apr 28

SnowLeopard Ubuntu plain logo windows 7 logo

With the latest version of any operating system, there’s often a lot of hype around its release with many eager to upgrade straightaway. Whether you’re running Mac OS X Snow Leopard, Ubuntu Lucid Lynx 10.04 or Windows 7, you’ll know all about this. But do we really need the latest OS?

I was reading the Lifehacker Editors’ Favorite Software and Hardware the other day and what really caught my attention was not so much the apps they used, but their operating systems. You would think these guys at the cutting edge of tech would demand the latest OS on their systems, but no. Here’s what they’re running:

Gina Trapani: Mac OS X and Windows XP and thinking about Ubuntu Hardy Heron 8.04

Adam Pash: Mac OS X

Kevin Purdy: Windows Vista and Ubuntu Hardy Heron 8.04

Jason Fitzpatrick: Windows XP, Mac OS X and Linux

Tamar Weinberg: Windows XP and Fedora 9

So no Windows 7, 6 months after its release. Not even Ubuntu 9.10.

Which just goes to show that maybe we just don’t need the latest version. I upgraded from Windows XP to Windows 7 recently, because I got a good pre-release price on the upgrade and my XP install was badly in need of a refresh. But I have to confess I did succumb to all the hype – the general consensus was that Windows 7 was awesome. But in all honesty, Windows XP was just fine. What can I do now in Windows 7 that I couldn’t do in Windows XP….let me think…nothing! I’m running just the same desktop software and web apps and services.

And I seem to recall a bit of disquiet over the Mac Snow Leopard release – some felt the upgrade from Leopard just wasn’t worthwhile. And I guess the interest in Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron rather than the latest release is because it was a Long Term Support version (LTS) with 3 years support on the Ubuntu Desktop.

So you might say there really is no need to upgrade your OS. They are becoming more mature and more stable with each release and software vendors are going to find it increasingly hard to get us to upgrade in future. If you’re system is performing well and doing what you want, that’s the main thing. But it’s probably worth reinstalling your OS every couple of years to blow away your old bloated registry (Windows users) and the apps you never use, and you’ll likely see an improvement in performance. Eventually however, you’ll find that new hardware and software won’t be supported on the very old OS versions and technical support will be withdrawn so you may have to upgrade then.

Do you run the latest OS? If you have upgraded, was it worth it? Drop a comment below.

Oct 22

White Macbook Well 12 posts down and no mention of Apple or Mac or Linux. Not good. Doubtless there are people surfing over here and who are dismayed (or stronger) to discover yet another PC oriented tech blog. I’m genuinely sorry. I better give a word of explanation and justification.

I really first came into contact with computers in the mid-80s when in college in the UK. I used the VAX mainframe there to produce some maps, diagrams and for word processing. In 1988, I wanted to get a computer to do the same things at work and by now Macs and PCs were really hitting the marketplace. The major factor in my decision to buy a PC and not a Mac at that time was the off-the-shelf third party map making software available for it which I needed for working with spatial data. So I bought a PC, learned how to use it, rescue it, upgrade it, and stuck with it. I’ve really nothing against Macs believe me. It’s just the Mac’s price and the PCs range of applications and upgradability which have been major factors for me through the years. Macs are perfectly adequate platforms, particularly for creative and graphical work. Indeed they’re probably a better choice for many people and are probably more reliable. Problem is they are premium products at premium prices. I’d really like to own one and perhaps one day I will. In fact, it would be nice to chart cross-platform computing on this blog.

Yes the observant readers will be saying but you haven’t mentioned Linux either. Well I tried Ubuntu last year. It installed fine but I just couldn’t get online. Seemed it wanted a WEP encrypted wireless network and I had WPA. There was a workaround mentioned on various forums but I just hadn’t the time to sort it out and it didn’t seem like an easy fix to me. I’ll try again with the new Ubuntu 8.10 release at the end of October (Intrepid Ibex) and hopefully document how I get on.

I wonder if the whole PC-Mac-Linux polarity is just becoming less important these days. Seems to me that computing is increasingly just about getting online to work in the cloud or communicate on social networks – and you can do that from any platform. They’re all increasingly just platforms getting you to a goal.

Photo credit: redjar

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