We all know the frustration of purchasing a computer only to find that in short order it is obsolete. You can’t put a camera in the original iPad. You can’t make a touch-screen monitor out of a traditional monitor. But when it comes to software — the programs that your hardware runs — you can upgrade without buying new hardware. You just have to buy the new software.
Software can be divided into two categories: Programs and Operating Systems. Programs are Word, Sykpe, Excel, Picassa, Quicken, Internet Explorer, and Safari, to name a few. Operating Systems on Windows (in order of their release) are XP, Vista, and Windows 7. Operating Systems on a Mac (in order of their release) are Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard, and Lion.
2012 will be a big year for Operating Systems: new systems with significant (and really cool!) features will be released for both Windows and Macs. Unless your system is really really old, you should not need to purchase new hardware to take advantage of these upgrades.
Here is an overview:
Windows 8 — likely to be released in October — represents the most significant change to the look and feel of the Windows operating environment in many years. Your programs will work the same as they do now, but the Start Screen and how you navigate to your programs and files will be more intuitive and more fun. Rather than a Start Button, your whole screen will be divided into customizable “tiles” so you can more readily see and access what is on your computer.
Windows 8 will work on desktops, laptops, and tablets that currently operate in the Windows environment. It will work with a mouse or a trackpad, but will also work beautifully with a touch screen monitor, if you choose to invest in one.
Windows 8 will also feature a picture password, a Windows Store from which you can purchase Apps, and a new version of Internet Explorer.
Mountain Lion for the Mac
Following the 2011 release of Lion, Apple is set to release Mountain Lion in late Summer. Mountain Lion will bring to the Mac desktop and laptop many of the features Apple has already made popular on the iPhone and iPad: messages, reminders, notes, the notification center, and the game center. And of course, all of these new features in Mountain Lion will be in full sync with your other Apple devices through iCloud.
As neither Windows 8 nor Mountain Lion has been released yet, there are still unanswered questions.
- How much will each cost?
- If I don’t currently have the latest operating system, will I be able to “skip” a generation or will I need to upgrade to the current one first?
- Will the programs I currently use work in the new operating system?
- If I’m happy with my system or just don’t want to bother, do I need to upgrade at all?
All good questions.
As more information is available, I’ll be better able to address your concerns and help you decide what is right for you.
Much has already been written about the new releases, however, and there are video demos of both available online. If you are interested, Google the one(s) that interest you and learn what there is to know so far.
Should be an exciting year.