Weighing the appropriateness factor for your Windows 7 successor

This is the third and final installment (for now) discussing options for computers running the Windows 7 operating system destined for the pastures on Jan. 14, 2020. This series can also be a guide to choosing your first "digital world," aka internet or the cloud, connected device.

There are numerous idioms, or expressions, in our language that are analogous to my philosophy of “appropriateness” when embracing technology. For example, if your needs are simple then you don’t want a complex technology that is capable of doing “everything but the kitchen sink.”

Putting the above “appropriateness factor” front and center, please understand that each reader’s unique financial situation couldn’t be considered into the equation. Apply your own financial situation when evaluating any option discussed here.

Let’s start with a use case that dictates moving to Windows 10 because you actually need and use the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink functionality provided by a personal computer. In this scenario, consider the age of your computer hardware along with your technical aptitude in performing pre-flight tasks such as data backup, data restoration, or even replacing your hard drive with a solid state drive for performance gain (the latter does not have moving parts).

Age is a big factor to consider because your computer can be 10 years old; even older if it was upgraded from Windows XP on the same physical computer! Other than wear-and-tear, due to how fast technology advances, the inner connections may be too outdated on vintage hardware. Unlike vintage wine, technology becomes obsolete as it ages. If you have a three- to four-year-old computer but are not comfortable installing Windows 10 on your own, there are many outfits including big box electronics stores’ service departments that can get it done for a fee.

Since Microsoft officially ended their free upgrade program in mid-2016, a Windows 10 retail copy will cost you anywhere from $150 to $200. Since technology has the shelf life of a fruit, stores have no incentive in holding on to technology inventory; I've seen an entry level but decent laptop computer on clearance for $400 with Windows 10 already installed on it. Doing the math, its like the new hardware was only $250. My first computer, circa 1992, was over $2,500!

For those of you with simple needs such as email and browsing – the latter including shopping, banking and entertainment online – consider Chromebooks or tablets. Remember, these devices need to be connected to the internet wirelessly to be useful (internet service at home or at locations with public Wi-Fi). They don’t run on Windows 10, so they can't do everything that a personal computer does, but that shouldn't matter for this use case. Instead, Chromebooks run ChromeOS and tablets run Android or iOS operating systems (the latter for Apple-exclusive devices like iPad and iPad Pro).

Finally, an option for the hobbyist or the tinkerer are the often free Linux distributions. Planning and taking action based on your appropriateness factor is the key here!

Tak Sato

Strategist and technologist with almost 30 years of experience in the private sector. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and Executive MBA from Cleveland State University.

As Founder of the Center for Aging in the Digital World, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit empowering seniors with digital literacy, Tak connects the dots to help people utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives.

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Volume 11, Issue 11, Posted 10:22 AM, 06.04.2019