Software Upgrades and 64-bit Systems

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Kenney says I like to be on the bleeding edge of technology, and I must admit I do like shiny new toys that might make my life easier.

But software is an entirely different matter.  I’m an absolute Scrooge in that department.

 Up until 2 weeks ago, I was using Eudora Pro, one of the original email programs developed, as my mail program.  I started using it in 1995 and have continued to, even after it quit being supported (i.e. nobody developed it anymore).   But it worked.   However, my email needs have changed and I finally, tearfully bade goodbye to it. 

Likewise, my Microsoft Office suite was 2003, and my image and website editing software was probably 4 years old – which is decrepit in my business.

But as long as software works and serves one’s purposes, then why upgrade? 

Enter the new generation of hardware with 64 bit processors.   They’re better, faster, stronger – or something like that (see this article if you’ve an engineering mind).   And, naturally, because of that, when I needed to buy a new laptop recently, I went for the shiny 64-bit system.

Turns out that fancy 64 bit is great unless your software is “ancient” like mine was. 

Now, some older software will run on a 64 bit pc, but in my recent experience it didn’t run well

I struggled with the drawbacks and glitches for a month or two before I finally bit the bullet and upgraded to the newest version of my web/image design software.  So much better!

It was interesting to learn that Microsoft has quit offering upgrades all together.   No more cheaper prices if you own Office 2003 (much less 2007) and want to upgrade.   Now there is one price.   That really does argue for keeping software as long as possible.

But if you do get a new 64 bit pc, there are alternatives to shelling out more bucks for software that plays nice on it:

  • If you just aren’t up for spending $400+ on a Microsoft office suite, try OpenOffice.  It’s free software you can download that is a pretty good substitute for Word, Excel, etc.  And it will open Word and Excel and similar programs so it’s not like you’ll lose any of your current documents if you make the switch.
  • Use Google Apps for free or get the bigger, more secure version for $50/year per user.  I use Gmail and I’ve tried the calendar, but I’m not familiar with the other features.
  • Try using your old software.  It may work, but it probably won’t work as well.  For example, I edit images in Fireworks.  On the 64 bit pc, not all of Fireworks features showed up – and, of course, they happened to be the features I use most frequently.

Finally, there are sometimes good reasons to upgrade your software other than getting a new computer.   New versions may have features that turn out to be really useful.   But I have to say, for every shiny new feature I like, there is an “old” feature that is suddenly different for no apparent reason.

(Any Dreamweaver developers out there, note:  Why in the world did you move the file tab to the left when it’s been on the right since day one?  Aargh)

Addendum:  I also learned that my external hard drive had to be completely reformatted to work with the 64-bit computer.   That was quite a time-consuming lesson as you may know if you follow my occasional Facebook postings.

But with all the above said, man, this pc is fast!

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