Your computer’s operating system is the backbone of everything else in your computer. It allows you to view and launch programs, determines how they run, and provides the support for everything you do on your computer. Whether you’re still using your trusty Windows XP machine or have learned to live with Vista, the idea of “upgrading Windows” can be a daunting prospect. Nonetheless, there are a number of reasons to make the leap.
Let’s be honest – change doesn’t always mean for the better. If you’re using Windows Vista, you probably are all-too-familiar with this. It seems that Microsoft’s latest OS is a dud every decade or so. Before Vista came the nightmare that was ME (Millennium Edition). So of course you have your reasons to be wary about upgrading to Windows 7, but it’s worth it this time – I promise. Here’s why:
First, Microsoft ended their Mainstream Support for XP in 2009 and for Vista earlier this year. While there’s still Extended support to ensure that major security holes will be fixed (eventually), this means that there won’t be any new Security Packs or updates that fix general glitches, bugs, or usability problems. Microsoft hasn’t completely dropped support for these operating systems like they did for older versions such as Windows 98 and Windows 2000, but they are more focused on their current operating system (Windows 7) and their upcoming release, Windows 8.
Second, new programs are being developed for Windows 7, and these programs are much less compatible with previous operating systems. Programs like this include drivers, which are essential to run any of your hardware, such as graphics cards, printers and monitors. Your hardware may work just fine right now, but when it inevitably comes time to buy new parts for your computer, they may not be supported on an older operating system.
Finally, a move to Windows 7 now will make the transition to Windows 8 easier, when it comes out later this fall. You may wonder why bother upgrading to Windows 7 now if 8 will be coming out that soon. Unless Windows 8 is completely flawless when it comes out, which is unlikely, you will probably want to hold off on the upgrade for at least a few months if not a year when all the bugs have been worked out.
So if you’ve decided to make the jump by now, how should you go about doing it? The upgrade process is relatively painless, although it will take a few hours.
First, you’ll need to buy Windows 7, obviously. If you have XP Home or Vista Home, Windows 7 Home will likely work out just fine for you. Unless you know you’ll need different features than before, you will probably want to stick with the same version as before.
Next, before you start the actual upgrade process, consider backing up all your files onto an external hard drive or your cloud service of choice. While the chance of data loss is very small, especially with Windows 7, if you have files you absolutely cannot lose, it’s a smart choice to back them up. Additionally, it’s recommended to back up files regularly even when you aren’t going through a major system upgrade. You should also check to make sure you have all the install disks for your programs that you use, especially if you’re using XP. XP cannot upgrade directly to Windows 7, and therefore you’ll need to reinstall your programs. The Vista to Windows 7 upgrade is much more streamlined and should allow you to keep most, if not all, of your programs installed. Nonetheless, keeping an inventory of your install disks is advisable.
After you’re ready to perform the upgrade, put the disk in your computer. The installer should walk you through the process without pain and only take a couple hours. Windows 7 installs amazingly smooth and quick as compared to previous operating systems.
Once you’ve finished, put your files and programs back, if necessary, and make sure to install any available updates right away. After that, you’ll be good to go on your freshly upgraded Windows 7 machine. You should notice increased performance and functionality right away!