The Benefits & Hazards of Updating
Just when it seems my laptop and iPhone are running smoothly, I get a notice that there's an operating system update available. (The operating system is what runs our smartphones and computers.) The temptation for me is to ignore it. Why should I take the time to disrupt what I'm doing for something that may end up costing me more time? It can be a hassle if something goes wrong.
Part of me worries that the newest operating system will make my computer or iPhone run more slowly. Or it will be full of bugs. Or it will force my older apps into obsolescence. While these ill effects can happen sometimes, the more rational part of my brain reminds me that, given the right conditions, updates are good. They provide upgraded features, fix existing bugs, and implement security patches to keep my devices safe.
I recently upgraded my eight-year-old MacBook Air to the latest operating system, called Catalina. In general, I keep my apps and operating systems updated to within a couple versions of the most recent. This ensures that those apps are optimized for the operating system and vice versa. It's like going to the gym: I know it's good for me, but there are times I feel it would just be easier to skip it. In the end, though, I go, and I stay in shape. This system of updating has been working for me without issue. Until now.
As I clicked the Install Catalina button on my Mac, up popped a warning that my Microsoft Office programs would no longer work if I continued. It seems that my versions of Word, Excel, and Powerpoint (all part of my MS Office 2008 suite of productivity programs) were too old for this dashing, young Catalina. I left the message staring at me on the screen as I hurried to look up what my options were with using MS Word et al. in the future.
Programs, such as the MS Office Suite, undergo minor version updates. These are free to download. Once in a while, they have major redesigns and are given new names–like MS Office 2008 became MS Office 2016, which later became 2019. These you have to pay for. After a while, enough re-designs have occurred that the oldest ones just no longer work with modern operating systems.
In the end, I decided to proceed with the installation, basically giving up my usage of Microsoft Office for the near future. I only did this because I knew that I could buy MS Office 2019 if I wanted to. In the meantime, though, I'm not sure I need it. I have other productivity programs and apps that I like better. And they're free. But that's a story for another time.
When it comes to major overhauls of operating systems, like going from Mac's Mojave to Catalina, or Windows XP to Windows 10, I like to wait a couple of months before committing to be sure that there aren't any big bugs in the new version that can be more trouble than they're worth. As far as minor updates to operating systems (like Catalina 10.15.2 to Catalina 10.15.3), I generally download these when they're available. These little updates are beneficial adjustments to make your system run more efficiently.
Bottom line, when it comes to deciding whether to update apps and operating systems, in general, I believe it's a good idea. It keeps your system running smoothly and securely. The trick, however, is understanding that it sometimes comes with unintended consequences. Sometimes your latest version app will be too advanced for your operating system, and sometimes your latest operating system will be too advanced for you app. That's why I try to keep them all as current as possible.
Not sure whether to update or not? Contact me. I'll go over your situation and help you decide. Then, we can walk through the process together!
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