Windows 10 is now out and many people will have already been invited to join the party. Microsoft has even configured it so you download the large install file even if you are not aware of it – putting it into a hidden folder on your PC.

The big question I am often asked is should you upgrade?

Well the answer depends upon what is on your PC at the moment and how old is your PC.

My rule of thumb with most upgrades of operating systems is – ‘if it is not broke don’t fit it’. (Note I do not mean updates – you should always keep a Windows machine up to date as a protection against new exploits. MS software is not open source so the only one who will fix that new gaping security hole in your PC is Microsoft, in the form of software patches).

If you are happy with your PC and don’t need new features then stay where you are is a good maxim but not always practical. Some operating systems are obsolete and will not receive security support in the future. See my article on Windows Lifecycles.

Let us look at the Windows family:

XP

XP is completely unsupported – you are totally on your own – my favourite OS but very risky without security updates, still works on older machines with limited internet contact.

VERDICT – Consider Linux if you want to keep the old PC running, otherwise you will need serious upgrading for Windows 10

VISTA

Windows Vista has until April 2017 for security updates only. You cannot upgrade to Windows 10 unless you download a complete version of Windows 10. Free copies are available if you join up to Microsoft Insider program which allows you a trial disk.

The main issue is whether your PC will run Win10 if you can get it.

Windows 10 requirements from Microsoft

  1. PROCESSOR: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor or SoC
  2. RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit
  3. Hard disk space: 16 GB for 32-bit OS 20 GB for 64-bit OS
  4. Graphics card: DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver
  5. Display: 800×600
  6. Having said this I tried with a 3Ghz single core pentium 4 running Windows 7 and ‘the computer said NO!’
  7. VERDICT – Rule of thumb a pre 2006 machine might work but it could be very slow with Windows 10
  8. WINDOWS 7
  9. This ‘fixed; version of Vista has been the staple desktop machine for a few years and the life cycle too shows that it is only receiving security updates – this time until January 2020.
  10. The same machine age issues that affect Vista will affect early Windows 7 machines when it comes to upgrading to Windows 10 and having a much slower experience, but more importantly there are other reasons to stay put.
  11. Windows 7 is a solid performer, the style and feel of the software has remained unchanged for several years and Windows 10 will be a big culture shock for established users. Add to this the fact that until the Windows 10 Service packs start coming through you will need to cope with early teething problems on top of the shock of a very new system.
  12. Verdict : Even if you get the invite I would stay put at least until the new year and the first Service Pack. Even then it is probably only worth it if you have a good spec machine – say post 2010. After all you have 4 years of security updates. The free upgrade offer lasts until 29th July 2016.
  13. Windows 8/8.1
  14. If you have this then Windows 10 will be a welcome relief  – faster and more easy to use – it is like Windows 7 was to Vista for a Windows 8 user. The extra features work a lot better, it is much more usable than Windows 8 or 8.1 and offers  new features,  improved security, a new browser and the voice-activated intelligent assistant Cortana.
  15. Verdict: What are you waiting for? It can only get better after Windows 8, new improvements are coming all the time and it is free to upgrade.