Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Windows 10: When to Update and When Not

Since Windows 10 officially launched at the end of July, I've been getting questions about updating library computers to the new operating system. My general suggestion is, wait. But let's break it down to some common situations.

Microsoft's Windows 10 Specifications

You can check and see if your computer meets these minimums by Computer - System Properties. If your computer doesn't meet these, you can stop right there. If it does, you have some decisions to make on whether or not it's worth the cost and/or will be an improvement.

Windows XP - most of the questions I'm getting are from people who are continuing to use Windows XP computers despite admonitions to upgrade or recycle when Microsoft ended Windows XP support on April 8, 2014. These are probably older machines. You're really going to want to check on hardware specifications for these. And you're going to want to consider cost. There is no free upgrade from Windows XP to 10. You're going to have to pay for it along with other new software. Chances are most of your existing Windows XP programs are not going to run on Windows 10. Generally, the choice is between sinking a considerable amount of money into old hardware that's probably nearing the end of its lifespan or just buying some new or newer computers with all new OS and other software. Most of the time, going new is going to be your better option.

Windows 7 - most of the tech pundits say that if you have Windows 7 era software and computers and they're running fine, leave them be. There's no reason to upgrade. Windows 7 is a stable platform. It's the one used by most enterprises. Why fix something that isn't broken?

Windows 8 or 8.1 - this is where most of the upgrades will most likely take place. Many users were not happy with Windows 8. Windows 10 promises to be an improvement. And this is most likely running on newer computers that you're planning on keeping for a while. So, you probably want to have the best software options to make the experience better.

So, if you have Windows 7 computers that you want to upgrade despite suggestions to the contrary and/or Windows 8.1 computers that probably should be upgraded, when should you do so? I'd wait for a while anyway for library computers.

  • First, you want to make sure that the necessary software you use on a regular basis, e.g., Workflows will run on the new OS. Also check into other software that your library patrons depend on. 
  • Second, the Windows 10 version currently in circulation does not appear to be the final product but more of a beta version. That makes it fine to use if you want to try it out on one computer so that you can see what it's like and become comfortable with it. It could pose challenges if you were to load it on all the library computers and/or an essential work computer. Some interesting bugs are being reported on a regular basis. It's best to let others work those out. Often in the past, it's been suggested that libraries wait to upgrade to a new Windows version until Service Pack 1 or 2 is released. In this rollout, they seem to be using the term Threshold for significant updates. Reportedly Threshold 2 is due to come out in November. I would certainly wait until then before considering upgrading public access computers. Hopefully, many of the bugs will be worked out and features will be functional.
Here are some of my favorite sources for Windows information:
For Montana public librarians, I, or one of the other consultants would be happy to discuss your options with you.