Upgrade to Windows 10 for the right reasons

A trending question in the digital world is whether to upgrade a Windows 7 computer to Windows 10. The upgrade is free until July 29; it jumps to $119 after that date. Here are some thoughts to help you decide whether to accept or continue to decline the offer to upgrade to Windows 10. (If your computer is not compatible to run Windows 10, you will not be eligible for the upgrade. Microsoft will continue to provide security-related updates for Windows 7 until January of 2020.)

The first thing to keep in mind is to look at this “to upgrade or not to upgrade” question in a holistic context. Just getting the assurance that your computer is compatible to run Windows 10 and that the software is totally free shouldn’t be the only deciding factors. The free upgrade may end up costing you in other ways.

Start asking questions like what kind of peripherals – a printer, for example – do you use and and are those still supported under Windows 10? Peripheral devices often need “drivers.” Drivers are middlemen, or more appropriately interpreters, sitting between the peripheral and Windows.

Using the printer as an example, when you tell the word processing software to print, Windows send the print command to the driver who translates command into a language the printer understands. Depending on the vintage of your printer, the printer manufacturer may not develop the necessary driver for the newer version of Windows.

The printer manufacturers are in the business to sell printers. Every new version of Windows may require the printer manufacturer to program newer drivers. Guess what? If they continue writing drivers for newer versions of Windows, they will never sell from their newer product line. At some point, printer manufacturers stop programming newer drivers for older printers. If you have been nursing an old printer through a couple of Windows upgrades already, there is a good chance that the third upgrade sees the old printer not being supported anymore.

Another question to ask might be what kind of software you currently use on your computer. Here again, older versions of the software may not operate properly, exhibit anomalies or just plain do not work. You may not have the opportunity to upgrade your favorite software to a newer version that works under Windows 10 if the company went out of business.

You may also want to consider the learning curve of any new Windows version. Compared to Windows 8 where the learning curve was very steep (or was ridiculous, as some might say), Windows 10 is more a spiritual successor and the user experience is similar to using Windows 7 or Vista.

Finally, although we can’t be sure if Microsoft will not start another campaign to entice users to move to Windows 10, if the incompatibility was due to unsupported peripherals or software, you can always look for replacement alternatives and then upgrade to Windows 10.

Tak Sato

Technology and Business Strategist with over 25 years of experience. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and MBA from Cleveland State University.

As co-founder of geek with a heart with the service mark"Hand-holding You in the Digital World" and co-founder of Center for Aging in the Digital World, a nonprofit empowering seniors through technology, Tak helps people utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives.

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Volume 8, Issue 13, Posted 9:21 AM, 07.06.2016