Practical Ecommerce

Windows Vista — Upgrade Now or Later?

More than 10 years ago, I sat in front of my TV in rapt excitement as I watched a promotion for Windows 95 and heard the Rolling Stones sing “Start Me Up!” As the magical on-screen mouse clicked a “Start” button, I believed the promise that my computer world was about to change forever.

In the ensuing decade, the promises made in that TV promotion sometimes lived up to the hype — and at other times fell flat.

Why upgrade?

With the release of Windows Vista, the question on everyone’s mind seems to be, “Should I upgrade now or wait?” To find an answer to this pressing upgrade question, I took a walk down memory lane for a brief lesson in recent history.

Windows 95, the operating system (OS) that made it possible to easily use a new generation of PCs, also put the phrase “latest security patch” into users’ everyday vocabulary. After Windows 95, we got Windows 98 — which purported to fix the problems with Windows 95. By the way, from my point of view, Windows 98 was probably Microsoft’s best OS ever.

Then came Windows ME, an operating system so bad I felt criminal charges (or at least a good scolding) were in order. The only system failure I ever had — and the four days of pure hell that resulted — was directly traceable to Windows ME.

Windows XP was the next OS installment, followed by the Service Pack 2 edition of XP, which allegedly made computing once again safe for humanity. The best thing I can say about XP Service Pack 2 is that while it doesn’t thrill me with significant new features, my computer doesn’t crash and it does what I want. All is right in the universe — this week, anyway.

With a track record like that, is it any wonder Microsoft didn’t see lines form at midnight in front of retail outlets on Vista release day? Is it any wonder people want to know if it’s worth the risk to upgrade, or whather they’d be better off to postpone the ultimate moment of truth for months or even years? This case shows that sometimes people really do learn from history.

Now that history class is complete, we return to the question: should you upgrade to Windows Vista or wait? The answer may be simpler than you think.

First, determine if your existing system can even support Vista. According to Microsoft’s website (and ignoring the minimum system requirements), a computer will need at least a 40 GB hard drive with 15 GB of available space, 1 GB of RAM, and, at minimum, a 128 MB graphics card (I’d say 256 MB on the graphics card to be safe). Meeting those requirements would enable you to run Vista. If you’re not sure about the details, you can log on to, do a search for “Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor” and download a software program that helps determine if and how you can get Vista up and running.

Even if your computer can, technically, handle Vista, is there a compelling reason to do so? My advice is to wait as long as possible before you upgrade. If your computer and software work fine right now, let sleeping dogs lie and enjoy your peaceful computing life as long as you can.

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  1. Legacy User February 27, 2007 Reply

    Make sure you computer manufacturer supports Vista, especially if you're on a laptop. I have an older model Toshiba and since I upgraded many of my keyboard and touch pad features don't work. Toshiba hasn't released a fix for any of these for my model.

    — *Nick*

  2. Legacy User February 27, 2007 Reply

    To Richard..

    Keep in mind Windows 2000 was not an upgrade from 98 it was an upgrade from NT. I remember briefly in college dual booting for a required assignment and noting that while I really did like 2000 it wasn't for the home user and certain things simply did not work for 2000. I'm sure by now manufacturers are paying a little more attention to 2000. But on top of else XP was Microsoft's end to two separate kernels in development. Now there are different versions of the XP and Vista operating systems. The business versions simply have more features important to business rather than being totally different OSes. (Less driver and software OS compatibailty issues. Remember having to check if your printer will work with a NT based machine??)

    — *Atypical IC*

  3. Legacy User February 27, 2007 Reply

    I think that if you take a hard look at Macs vs PCs, you will see that there is really no comparison. Many of the problems that plague PCs are related to the fact that so many people use them, making them a bigger target for internet threats. Then again, it's hard to deny the stability and security of UNIX, which OS X is based on. Not only that, it's important to understand the benefits of Apple maintaining control of both the operating system (software) and the machines themselves (hardware). This is what gives Apples the ease of use, and true plug-and-play capabilities.

    As for using them with a keyboard, I would argue that a Mac today is much more accessible than a PC. Don't forget that there is a UNIX terminal behind that pretty interface, offering much more than what is available through mouse commands. Mostly what has been happening the last few years is that Mac has been leading the way with new and innovative features, while Microsoft has struggled to keep up and get some of those features into Vista.

    — *Best OS*

  4. Legacy User February 27, 2007 Reply

    I just bought a new laptop — and it came with Vista. No issues so far! Although I haven't even considered upgrading the 2 desktop machines that I have on XP….

    — *Anne*

  5. Legacy User February 27, 2007 Reply

    At the risk of getting a scolding by pc users, I think I'll stick with my mac ;)

    — *Shane*

  6. Legacy User February 27, 2007 Reply

    Believe you dropped a paragraph? Windows 2000 was in-between ME and XP. and IMHO their best release to date. I've got 4 computers running in my little eBay business, they all run W2k and quite nicely so. I don't even see the need to upgrade to XP, let alone Vista. Why replace or upgrade something something if it's runign fine/ (provided, of course, that the new software you acquire can still RUN on the old OS!)

    — *Richard Kuipers*

  7. Legacy User February 27, 2007 Reply

    I also plan to wait as long as possible to upgrade. Vista will be the focal point of every hacker from here to eternity, leaving XP to go it merry way (I hope).
    In my opinion, the fact that Vistas (and XP's for that matter) system requirements are so high just goes to prove that the code used to create it has not been optimized to it's greatest potential.

    — *Joe*

  8. Legacy User February 27, 2007 Reply

    I miss my old and dear friend Windows 98SE even if his younger sibling, Windows XP is flashier and "faster".

    — *Caleb Mochari*

  9. Legacy User February 27, 2007 Reply

    We had some minor issues but Microsoft support system works very good. You have 90 day free tech suppoort and they can login to your PC and fix all of your problems. .. and honestly Vista works very good and very reliable.
    Lewis ;

    — *Lewis*

  10. Legacy User February 27, 2007 Reply

    After installing the Beta and then the final release of Vista on a production machine, I've realized the for Vista to work well, you MUST have real powerhouse of a PC. I've installed the released version on a brand new 2.0 GHG Core 2 Duo processor with 2 GB of RAM and a 256 graphics card. Still, it only scores a 4.2 out of possible 5.0 using the Vista Rating Tool. I thought I'd score a 5 for certain when I purchased the PC.

    So what does this tell us: The capabilities of Vista are a little further ahead then a PC in the market today that is considered both powerful and affordable. My guess is that is about a year, the prices for the more powerful hardward (i.e., more powerful than what I just purchased) should have come down enough for the PC to be relatively affordable.

    In a nutshell, once Duo Quad processors have come down in price, I'll then purchase Vista.

    — *Kevin*

  11. Legacy User February 27, 2007 Reply

    It will be nice when all the bugs get worked out. I attended the Microsoft Vista and Office 07 launch last week, and I was pretty impressed with the emphasis on collaboration with Vista OS and the Office Suite features. Could definitely be useful for consultants and other industry. Truth be told though, I wouldn't install on my critical machine just yet…I'm waiting for that, and maybe for the price to drop a bit. :)

    — *Morelli*

  12. Legacy User February 26, 2007 Reply

    I am going to leave my old PCs running Windows XP Service Pack 2. I don't plan to ever upgrade them. They work fine as is. However, I plan to buy a new PC in July / August and will go with Vista then. This will be a monster of a machine though – with duo core, 4 gigabytes of RAM, 512 megabytes of video ram and two SATA3 drives. Vista will put these to good use.

    I can't wait!!

    By then we should have a better feel for the bugs and holes in Vista,

    — *Simon*

  13. Legacy User February 26, 2007 Reply

    If you want to upgrade and old PC max out the RAM.

    — *Simon*

  14. Legacy User February 27, 2007 Reply

    A couple refelctions:
    I remember having few problems with Windows 95 (keeping up with updates of course) and remember not wanting and somewhat regretting to move to 98. Windows 98 was the first operating system that I remember made it possible to slow down the system clock simply by running the OS. Making 3rd party time sync programs and the more rececnt windows time sync necessary .

    Windows XP — I believe was one of the biggest leaps since Win 3.1. Especially how Microsoft made buying or downloading 3rd party versions of several types of software optional, not necessary (ie. file compression/extraction, CD Burning, video editing, decent music playing, etc).

    In conclusion, (ignoring Windows ME) I'm all for waiting until you need to buy a new OS (and while your at it a new computer – currently running a system I built in 2003 which is still running great [on XP], even for more advanced stuff). However, I don't think the wait should be as long, keeping in mind that it has been about 6 years since there was a need for Microsoft to upgrade it as opposed to in the 90s. We've seen about 4 OS in one decade compared to 2 so far in this one.

    Also, I currently have Vista on a NEW notebook (probably the best way to get a new OS, you also don't bring old problems with the new OS). I like it, I thought it was gonna be all super slick stuff that is only meant to visually stun you. However, there are some decent improvements making using your computer easier even if/when errors do come up.

    PS In response to Lewis' comment about the rating system, it might be important to understand why there's that rating system. Not scoring 5 doesn't meen your computer is inferior as most software won't need a 5 to operate properly. 3 and up puts in your computer in advanced computing arena. Before upgrading your hardware to the hilt you might want to check the required rating for the software you will be using.

    To Shane.. I'm still part and partial to my PC… Macs are a little too mouse dependant for my taste but I find it interesting that every year both Mac and Microsoft have been making strides to become more like one another and not apart. Remember the MacOS X vs ver 9.x? And more recently Apple has totally abandoned their much bragged about G-line of processors. Hat tip to Intel for, if perhaps only briefly, being on top of their game. Pretty soon it probably won't make a difference Mac or PC even for those who have been faithful to one or the other for so long.

    — *Atypical*

  15. Legacy User February 23, 2007 Reply

    Personally I think Leopards are the way ahead ;)

    — *Euan*

  16. Legacy User February 23, 2007 Reply

    The first patch for Vista has already been released, and it addresses a security issue with the Antivirus Engine itself. Taking what Jim said about learning from history, I agree that waiting as long as possible is the way to go.

    Who knows what other patches and such will come out in the next few months, and what vulnerabilities will be exposed once more people begin to use Vista. Great article.

    — *Brian*

  17. Legacy User February 27, 2007 Reply

    "Many of the problems that plague PCs are related to the fact that so many people use them" — I'd like to point out that this is not a statement of better OS. This unfortunately is a side effect of the (perhas undue) popluarity of PCs.

    Not trying to start a war, though… In fact I was only saying that on BOTH sides.. Apple and Microsoft are approaching each other. Yeah they are both advancing… and as CS major I can definitely appreciate the UNIX backend on MacOS edging out Microsoft by inheriting its security and stability. Microsft has coming along ways from the days of Win 3.1 (Graphical addition to Dos) and Mac OS has come aways from Classic Mac OS (Graphical with no console based functionality).

    At any rate.. it's obvious why Microsoft is doing what they are… as for Apple I think they are becoming more Window'esqe to capture the traditonal Microsoft Windows user. Not mad at either company… I think that after while it won't matter much to the average user, while as always Apple will capture that certain group that likes the particulars that arguably make it better. Here's a question, if they tables were flipped, do you think that people would bother hacking Windows if Macs were extremely popular?

    I'm sure both company's have plenty more tricks up there sleeves as Apple has shocked many faithful users in the past and Microsoft is already on the verge of changing the OS game, again, post-Vista.

    Anyways, this is not even Apple article, so.. didn't mean to start anything, but for now.. truce

    — *Atypical IC*

  18. Legacy User February 27, 2007 Reply

    We purchased two computers in the last month for our business. Our goal was to stay with Win XP. It's getting harder and harder to find new machines with XP installed. Our first purchase was an HP with Win XP. No problems – everything works great. Our second purchase was a couple of weeks later. Again, another HP, but with Vista installed. Our luck ran out on the Vista machine with compatibility issues with some of our existing software. After two days of frustration (that I didn't follow my gut), I thought about wiping Vista and installing XP on the second computer. I did a bit of research and found that this isn't so easy if your computer uses SATA drives -which many new computers have. XP won't recognize the SATA drive during the install. There's a few things that you have to do to make it all work. The most common solution requires a floppy drive. Guess what? No floppy drive! Anyway, I fought through the Vista issues and things are working OK right now. I would definitely wait – trust your gut!

    — *Jay*

  19. Legacy User February 28, 2007 Reply

    So many comments, so many readers. Why won't anyone DIGG this article?


    — *bgetting*

  20. Legacy User February 28, 2007 Reply

    Funnily enough, I started out as a PC fan, I worked 3rd line tech support, etc., and didn't give Macs the time of day. But as I got older, and busier, I just needed something that worked, without having to deal with the many issues the Windows platform presents.

    What really surprises me about Vista, is the lack of support for devices such as printers etc etc. For example, a friend recently purchased a new Dell with Vista pre-installed, plugs in his 1-year-old printer to find out Vista doesn't support it, and that Dell don't have a driver for it. Dell's answer was, buy a new printer!

    I find it hard to believe that for an OS that has been in development for so long, that device and hardware support could be so bad.

    — *Shane*

  21. Legacy User February 28, 2007 Reply

    The very best thing that can be said about ANY new Microsoft operating system, is that it will put more money in Bill Gates' bank account My personal opinion is that the reason Microsoft produces new operating systems, is that they get tired of producing upgrades, service packs and security fixes for the old operating systems.

    — *SloHand*

  22. Legacy User February 27, 2007 Reply

    Microsoft should have stuck with 98 and improve upon it. They should have updated the DOS program and made available defrag as a DOS as they did Scandisk. They put profit for the short term ahead of long lasting product that would have out stripped Linux due to the ease of use. Nobody likes a hassle. By the way I am also a Linux user, and for that OS you have to have lot of know how.

    — *Notsofast*

  23. Legacy User March 13, 2007 Reply

    I was fortunate or maybe unfortunate to be part of the beta testing for Vista from the early days, and afer rebuild after rebuild, then a week later another Vista build comes out and I would rebuild again, but I saw a lot of promise with Vista. I also have quiet a powerful machine, so Vista never had trouble running. An interesting thing however has just how long the install would take in the early days, as a base build woud take anything up to an hour. I installed the final release a couple of weeks ago and total time to install and reboot for the first time was about 10 min which impressed me. I didnt have to install a single driver, Vista took care of that for me and has been rock solid ever since.

    I have to confess, however, that I still have a dual boot system with XP running my games, as during testing I could never get any games to work really well.

    I think the real question of hold off and wait is rather related to the debate between 32-bit Vista and 64-bit Vista, all OEMs seem to be holding back on 64-bit drivers, and as soon as you plug anything other then a flash drive into Vista 64 it asks for drivers.

    — *NightOne*

  24. Legacy User April 25, 2007 Reply

    I havent instaled it yet because people are saying the it has 1,000s of unsolved bugs and viruses so my question is, is that true?

    — *megadeth lover(whom goes on computers)*

  25. Legacy User April 30, 2007 Reply

    Yeah, I think that windows XP SP2 should be the way to go for now until Vista is all patched up.

    A message from your local random friend,

    Da Big Pasha :)

    — *Big pasha*

  26. Legacy User August 15, 2007 Reply

    As a computer programmer and web designer for the last 20 years, I for one hurried and bought Vista just to find out most of my Apps was not compatible and the computer I bought was brand new with a Made for Vista sticker by Dell. Well lets just say it was all hype, the OS was horrible and I got so aggravated with everything crashing all the time I moved to mac… Now that I've done so my business runs smooth with no more crashes, lost or corrupted data and I run Windows XP in Parallels for a few apps that I must run. I say leave Vista for those who like bad software and move to mac as fast as you can…

    — *Dr. Morose*

  27. Legacy User September 3, 2007 Reply

    I would just check as many of us are running software that is incompatible with Vista and there is no current update in sight .. sometimes for software that cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. I'm sticking with XP and I already bought another machine .. just in case … so I can export my currently running business.

    Just my thoughts!

    the NYC Hypnosis Center

    — *JP*

  28. Rushabh Vasa September 20, 2008 Reply

    Vista has got enough power but it has got so many drawbacks. I think we should wait for Windows 10… we can expect something different in it.