Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Some Comments on Upgrades -- Windows 10 is coming soon

From time to time, I have written about the need to backup your data and upgrade both programs and operating systems. A recent online news item caught my eye, will no longer support OS X 10.5 or older starting May 18th. See Help Center, "Ending support for OS X Tiger 10.4 and 10.5 Leopard." This announcement may seem innocuous and just part of the background news that you patiently (or impatiently) ignore, but it is another example of the very rapid movement in technology. Genealogists are not immune to these changes. I am still talking to people who have massive amounts of their personal genealogical research locked up in Personal Ancestral File, a program that was discontinued in 2002!

Apple's OS X operating systems were first introduced with Mac OS X 10.0 Cheetah in 2001. Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger was introduced in 2004 and Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard was introduced in 2006. I have an iMac sitting dormant in my office because the processor in the iMac cannot take an operating system later than OS X 10.5 and there are very few things left I can do with the computer. The most recent Apple OS X is OS X 10.10 Yosemite introduced in 2014.

There is a direct correlation between the release of a new operating system and changes in the microprocessor used in your computer. New processors equal new operating systems in most cases. You may think that your old computer is merely a little out-of-date and slow, but the effects of technological change are much more serious than mere inconvenience. Some programs are abandoned as the new technology changes. Most developers bite the bullet and upgrade their programs constantly. Sometimes these upgrades result in a cost to upgrade to a new version. Most of the time, the new version has features that make it more useful, although with some upgrades it may seem that the developer is going in the other direction.

Now we come to Window 10 from Microsoft. estimates that 56.26% of the world's computers are running Windows 7. Mac OS X 10.10 has 3.21% of the market and older versions of both operating systems or other operating systems make up the balance. There are supposedly 18.26% of the market still using Windows XP. Windows XP had a long run, it was introduced in 2001 and replaced by Windows Vista in 2007.

At the core of the issue here is that when Windows 10 comes out, it will have features that will require the most recent computer processors. If you look at the list of Intel Chipsets in the past few years, you can see a rough correspondence with the changes in operating systems. Intel released new Pentium chips in 1999 and 2001. See Wikipedia: List of Intel chipsets. Pentium 4 Chipsets began coming out in 2000 and continued until 2003. Newer Pentium 4 chips came out in 2004, 2005 and 2006. 2004 to 2006 saw the introduction of the Core/Core 2 Chipsets. New series of chips are coming out in 2015 and 2016.

You may wonder what in the world the new Windows 10 features have to do with genealogy. So do I as a matter of fact, but the reality of the upgrade is that programs will have to be upgraded to function with the new system. Once a developer moves to a new version of their program, they almost always phase out support for older versions over a matter of time. So you may not be attracted to the new Windows 10 features and conclude that you will just stay with your old XP system for a while longer, but inevitably your computer will stop functioning and you will start looking for a new computer and find out that the new computers all come with a much newer operating system and that your old programs need to be upgraded. If you are forced to upgrade all of your programs at once, the cost can exceed the cost of the new computer by three or four times.

My wife and I use Adobe products constantly. I use Photoshop, Bridge, Lightroom, InDesign and Adobe Acrobat Pro almost every day. She uses InDesign, Photoshop and Acrobat Pro very regularly. We upgraded our iMacs and the cost of upgrading just one of those programs, Photoshop, was close to $800. We have since gone onto the Adobe Creative Cloud program and have access to all of the programs for a monthly fee. The concept here is that you can pay a large sum from time to time or a smaller amount for periodic upgrades.

Computer systems and online connections have a definite cost. As genealogists this cost and the time spent to do the upgrades is a "cost of doing business." Change is the reality. Railing against the change is futile.

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