Upgrade to XP or wait for Vista?

Question

Should those of us on Windows 98 upgrade to XP or wait until next year when Microsoft releases Vista?

-George

Answer

This question was answered on April 27, 2006. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

Microsoft announced some time ago that it intended to discontinue support and updates to Windows 98, 98SE and Millennium Edition (ME) by June of 2006.

When the original plans were announced, the expectation was that Vista (now scheduled for release at the beginning of 2007) would be released but the repeated delays have created this dilemma for many users

Discontinued telephone support for these older versions of Windows is much less of a concern than the discontinuing of security updates Most users don’t call on Microsoft directly when they have a problem, but must look to Redmond for help in plugging holes as they are discovered

Do you wait to upgrade to Vista and take the risk of any security exploits or upgrade to Windows XP now to avoid that risk and put off upgrading to Vista for a while.

What is best for you depends a great deal upon what you use your system for and how much protection you have in place.

In my opinion, the impending release of Vista in early 2007 (provided there are no more delays!) is not a real factor in the decision for a very simple reason.

Unless you are a bleeding edge user (which is unlikely if you are still running operating systems that date back to 1998) you shouldn’t be in a big hurry to jump into the Vista pool.

Realistically, casual computer users should not be looking at moving to Vista until it has been out for at least a couple of months so that all of the usual kinks, driver and hardware compatibility and application support issues have all been worked out by early adopters (Remember, pioneers get arrows!)

That means it would be at least a year from now before going to Vista and probably even longer since this is a major update.

The longer you wait to move to Vista, the more others will have taken on the burden of figuring out all of the issues Having been around for lots of new operating system launches, being conservative is always safer, as long as your computer is capable of providing you with the productivity that you will need

If you choose to continue running Windows 98 or ME, no one can predict what will happen You will be in uncharted waters, so be sure to stay connected to trusted technology news sources so you can monitor the discovery of new exploits.

If you continue to use safe computing practices such as updating anti-virus/spyware software, using a hardware router between your computer and the Internet, don’t open file attachments in e-mail or instant messaging, don’t engage in file sharing systems or downloads of unnecessary software (especially “free” software), you have a better chance of avoiding any real issues, but will still be on your own.

You will start to see “Vista Capable” (able to run at the basic level) and “Vista Ready” (optimized for Vista) systems from lots of vendors before June, but the general consensus is that just about any mid-level computer system sold today will be “capable” of running Vista at its basic level.

Vista has some higher level 3D graphics capabilities that will require upgraded video hardware, but will “kick down” to standard video on systems that don’t have newer video processors

Vista will also be distributed on DVDs so make sure you have a DVD playback drive (a burner is not necessary) and the ability to add upgraded video cards later if you want to buy something now that is “Vista capable” and upgrade it later to “Vista ready”.

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Author

Posted by Ken of Data Doctors on April 27, 2006