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Updates vs. Upgrades

Your computer probably informs you periodically that you need to update your software. Or is it upgrade your software? Which is it? What is the difference?

Updates and upgrades both offer you newer versions of the software you already own. Where they differ is in how you learn about them, what they cost, what they include, and perhaps whether you should purchase/install them.


  • Example: Version 14.1.2 to Version 14.1.3
  • Cost: Free
  • Might include: bug fixes, minor changes, compatibility and security updates
  • Release notification: your computer informs you when an update is available
  • Install process: download from the developer (usually by a link included with the notification)


  • Example: Word 2007 to Word 2010
  • Cost: Not free
  • Might include: major changes, a whole new look, enhanced functionality
  • Release notification: media advertising, emails from the developer, etc.
  • Install process: purchase and download online or purchase disks and install manually

Should you install updates and purchase/install upgrades? “Yes” for updates. “Eventually” for upgrades.

I recommend that you always install free updates to your software (this includes updates to your iPad and smartphone apps as well). Why not have the best and safest version of your programs?

As for upgrades, you must decide whether you are ready for a change. Upgrades can look vastly different from the version you are used to; you will need to be patient as you acclimate. I find the online videos that introduce the new look and features of an upgrade to be very informative. They can help you decide if you are ready to upgrade.

Even if you choose not to purchase/install an upgrade when it is first released, you should plan to do so eventually. Don’t be too many versions behind the most current release.

I hope this helps.

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