I’m often asked – “should I upgrade Windows”?  Most times the answer is quite simple – no.

I see quite a variety of Windows versions – everything from Windows XP through to the latest Windows 10.    Generally, the version of Windows that comes with a PC is the most applicable for it.    Let me explain with some history.

Back in the days when Windows XP launched, a PC typically had maybe 2GB memory and 100GB of disk space.   Today, a typical PC has 8GB of memory and 1000GB of disk space – quite a difference.

As time progresses, computers and the programs that run on them get more advanced and need more resources/power to run.   So, Windows 10 was built to run on a minimum of 4GB, though I’d recommend 8GB as a starting point.

You’d be trying to shoehorn Windows 10 onto a machine that has Windows XP on it because it just won’t have enough power to run smoothly.  Yes, it may install, but will it actually be useable?   Of course, you could upgrade the memory, but that’s only one component.   Everything else in the computer is going to be pretty dated and a lot slower.

Now I’m not saying that you shouldn’t upgrade Windows XP.  Windows 7 for example is newer than XP and more secure.   There’s a good chance that it’d run well on an XP machine, however the tricky bit is getting a copy of Windows 7 as it’s no longer available to buy!

So, what if you’re on a machine with Windows 7 or Windows 8?   For a year after Windows 10 was released, Microsoft gave it away for free.   If you had Window 8, it was a perfect opportunity to upgrade – I really didn’t like Windows 8.   With Windows 8, Microsoft went “all-in” on touch screens, at the detriment of the rest of the operating system.   It was a combination of touch and keyboard/mouse which left you wondering just where everything was and how it worked!   Many people who were used to the start menu in Windows 7 (and earlier) were confused by this new way of working (myself included).   Windows 10 fixed this by reintroducing the familiar start menu.

Unfortunately, the upgrade to Windows 10 is no longer free.  Now you have to pay around $150 for it. For this reason – if you’re on Windows 7 I’d recommend staying with it.   It’s still getting updated and still works well.   Instead I’d save the $150 and put it towards your next computer – or maybe upgrade the hard drive to an SSD.

Windows 8 – well that’s a tricky one.   Windows 10 is certainly an upgrade in terms of usability, but are you willing to pay $150 for it?

Lastly is Windows Vista.  If I didn’t like Windows 8, then I really hate Vista.   What a mess.   I’m not sure what Microsoft was thinking when they developed Vista – I think they bit off more than they could chew and tried to make too many changes at once. It runs slow, it is no longer supported and has numerous compatibility issues.   I was once responsible for an office of over 500 computers, a good proportion of which was running Windows Vista.   One day Microsoft released a new patch/update, which if installed, completely broke the machine.   It was a frantic day of running around unplugging computers and disconnecting them from the Internet before they’d basically self-destruct.   If you’re stuck with Vista, you’re probably best looking at a new computer.   Given the age of the machine, it’s not going to be feasible to upgrade to Windows 10.   You’d notice a huge difference with a new machine.

One other thing to consider when upgrading Windows is that there’s going to be a learning curve.   It’ll look and work differently so it will take a while to get used to.  The jump from Windows 7 to Windows 10 isn’t so bad as both are based around the Start Menu.

So, to summarise – should you upgrade – no.   If you’re on Windows 8 still, you missed a great opportunity for a free upgrade.   Anything else is either going to be too old, or just not worth the investment.  Instead I’d advise you to either look at a new computer, or even a tablet like an iPad if all you’re using it for is Web/Email.

And finally, if you’re on Windows Vista, my commiserations. Save yourself some sanity and start looking for a new computer!