Is newer always better?

I don’t think so. Not a day goes by when someone doesn’t asks me whether he should migrate to the newer version of a software recently launched. My reply is almost always the same – if you can’t do something with the older version, what makes you think you can do it with the newer? Its not like it can read your mind with the latest version and do what you want it to do instead of doing what you tell it to do. There is hardly ever any genuine reason to upgrade. Most software companies would go bust if they didn’t come out with a newer version of their products twice a year. But there is never anything substantial enough for you to actually upgrade.

People like to believe that the newer software works better than the older versions. That it would be able to do what they are trying to do without the learning curve. Basically a free slice of the software pie. Output without any effort at input. All I can say is don’t be fooled by the marketing hypes. Chances are that if you could not do something with the older version, you can forget doing it with the newer ones. It doesn’t work that way.

A computer is a tool. Just a tool. Like a hammer. A bigger and better hammer won’t spare your finger if you miss the nail. And if you couldn’t tighten a nut with the old hammer, there is no way you can do it with the new one. It just wasn’t designed for that. You’re better off getting a spanner to do the job. Even a old one will do. A computer will work exactly as you want provided you understand what its for and what it can do. Same is true for every software ever written.

My accountant still uses Pentium processors on monochrome monitors. He has never used Windows XP, nor does he care for it. He’s still in love with DOS/Windows 3.1 and an ancient software for accounting written in FoxPro/Dbase. The middle-aged nerds will remember what that is, no young one has heard of it. His firm’s outputs are on dot-matrix printers running pre-printed continuous stationary. And it works for him. He is one of the busiest accountants I know and one of the best. I have never known him to make a mistake or complain about buggy software.

If you want your computer to do something that you know it should, don’t upgrade the machine. Upgrade yourself and learn how to use it. Chances are that there is nothing wrong with the computer or the software. There have been no new avenues for humanity in the last thirty years so whatever you are trying to do must have been done before as well and that too with the technology available then. There is no reason it can’t do the same even today if you make the effort to figure out how to do it.

Of course, there are exceptions. But those are rare and far in between. Generally you don’t need to upgrade to get something done which someone else has done on older versions. When in doubt, check the net. Google for it and more often than not, you will not only get the method but also free advice against pitfalls. And from so many different sources, you will be able to choose the best implementation for your predispositions.

Addendum: Ok, the obvious exception here would be your anti-virus and related utilitites. They should always be current as far as definitions and updates are concerned. -S

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