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Upgrade software or buy a new device?

By Jean-Claude Elias - Jan 02,2020 - Last updated at Jan 02,2020

When a new version of a major operating software system (OS) such as for example Windows or Android is released, is it better to keep the computer or the mobile device you have and do the upgrade to the new OS, or to make a bolder move altogether and to buy a newer device especially designed for the new OS and that has it already installed from the onset?

The question may seem simple but it is not.

For example, if yours is a Samsung Galaxy S8 smartphone running under Android 9 system, chances are you cannot upgrade it to Android 10, the company’s newest version and that was released last September. On the other hand newer models of the phone can.

When Microsoft Windows 10 was first released in 2015 the company smartly provided a way to “inspect and analyse” your computer to tell if it was able technically speaking to take the new system; that is to move up from Windows 7 to Windows 10. In many instances the analysis worked flawlessly and the upgrade report by Microsoft would provide you with the correct decision: your computer can be upgraded to Win10, or it cannot.

Unfortunately there were also countless instances where the report was inaccurate or incomplete. Which meant that your computer would be upgraded to Windows 10 alright, but some “minor” functions would not work anymore or would stop working as they should. For instance this old scanner you loved and used for years under Windows 7 would not be compatible with Windows 10 and would not function anymore — without any previous warning.

In other cases it is the WiFi adapter that would not work at all. In the “least bad” case everything would work but slower than expected and even slower than before the upgrade, making you regret the move. Examples like these abound.

Depending on the OS and on the hardware, you were sometimes given the possibility to roll back to the previous state if you were not happy with the upgrade. This was mainly available with computers but rarely with smartphones and tablets.

So basically you are left with the following choice: to go for the upgrade keeping your fingers crossed and to see what happens, or to buy the most recent model of the hardware, be it a mobile device or a computer. The second option, understandably, entails continuous expense — not always a comfortable choice, though…

The fact is despite apparent additional expense, buying the latest hardware has proven to be cost-effective in the end, for most of us. Just like many of the expenses we usually incur, spending on technology also involves knowing what the real cost of things is, not at the precise moment of course but over a period of say five years or so.

The reason is that features and functionalities of equipment and software evolve continuously; they all move up at the same time, often in a parallel pattern.

So if you acquire a new Android smartphone because you want to be able to use Android OS 10 fully, you would at the same time benefit from a set of advantages that come with it too: Faster processor, better camera, extended digital storage, and so forth.

Some would argue —rightly so — that it is still more money spent in the end, regardless of how you do your actual costing and accounting. Life with technology has been like that since the early 1980s, making you always spend more money on it, just to keep up the pace.

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