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.
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 Microsoft.com, 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.