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OS Version Update: Windows, OSX, Android, & iOS

June 8, 2015

© 2015 by Nick B. Nicholaou, all rights reserved
President, Ministry Business Services, Inc.
Reprinted from Christian Computing Magazine

The Operating Systems (OS) on our computers and devices impact our computing experience and productivity. Whether it’s about Windows, OSX, Android, or iOS– the question I often get is, “What’s current and, even more important, what’s dependable?”

The Purpose of the OS
People get very excited about new operating systems! People are excited about what’s coming! They want to know what we think, and whether it’s okay for them to upgrade!

All of that excitement is good, and we’ll talk about the latest OSes in this article, as promised. But before we do, I’d like to inject a little reality into the discussion. You see, OSes should have very little impact on what we do and how we do it. An OS is really the foundation that allows the apps we do our work (or play) in to function. And it’s the apps– like Microsoft Office– that really impact what we do and how we do it.

Every OS comes with some small applications we like to call applets. Windows comes with Notepad and WordPad, and OSX comes with TextEdit, for example, that can do very light word processing. Does anyone use those applets? Not typically! No, we use Microsoft Word or Apple Pages because we want the full-featured word processing experience. So, it’s not the OS that helps us be productive, but the apps we install on top of the OS that really affect us.

But the OS can have an impact too. If it’s buggy, our apps won’t work as well as we need them to. OS quality can, thus, impact our productivity.

I mention this because running the latest and greatest OS isn’t always as important as the marketing and hype would have us believe. I’m not opposed to new OSes; I like how they add a freshness to our lives. But the bigger issue is productivity, and productivity happens mostly in our apps.

The new version, Windows 10, is about to hit the streets! It is a vast improvement over Windows 8 (and 8.1), and in our testing has proven itself to be solid! That’s great news, because Windows 8 wasn’t so great; it had a very steep learning curve and was not fun to use on systems without touch screens. Windows 10 includes a Start button (one of the biggest complaints from users when Windows 8 debuted was the absence of the Start button) and even re-introduces the Start menu! And Windows 10 is a solid network citizen.

Windows 10 is also free! Well, free to most users of Windows 7 and Windows 8 systems anyway. Microsoft wants everyone to move up to this OS, so they’re giving it away to most Windows users! My firm (MBS, Inc.) will be encouraging folks to move to it. Here is Microsoft’s minimum specs for Windows 10:

  • 1ghz or faster processor
  • 1gb RAM (for the 32-bit version) or 2gb RAM (for the 64-bit version), though I would recommend doubling those RAM minimums
  • 16gb storage (hard drive or flash)

Some changes you’ll notice in Windows 10:

  • Internet Explorer has been replaced! The new browser is called Edge. It’s a lot less bloated than Internet Explorer, and looks good!
  • The lock screen is more functional than it was in Windows 8, allowing you to see notifications, etc while the computer is locked if you want to (this is a configurable feature so folks won’t see notifications while you’re at lunch).
  • You can now talk to your computer– or yell at it!– and it will talk back! The feature is called Cortana; think Siri with a Seattle accent.

Microsoft has said this will be the last version of Windows– ever. Perhaps this will be like OSX where everything is a version of OSX 10 (10.1, 10.6, 10.10, etc). More interesting, perhaps, is why they skipped the numeral nine in naming this version. There are lots of theories out there, the most likely of which is that various apps call out Windows 9* in their code because of Windows 95, 98, etc. But my favorite theory continues to be that “seven ate nine.”

When Apple released OSX 10.9 (Mavericks), they broke the system that reads and writes files over networks. I worked with some Apple engineers, hoping they’d fix that. They didn’t though; they made it worse by spreading the ‘joy’ to also affecting reading and writing local files, treating most users to spinning color wheels throughout their day. Proving the saying, “Free isn’t always worth what you pay for it”, my firm never encouraged anyone to move to Mavericks.

When Yosemite (OSX 10.10) came out, there was marginal improvement, and then a couple of updates improved it a little further. The result was our conclusion that it would not get back to what it was before Mavericks, and that we should probably approve Yosemite so folks could move forward. The latest version is 10.10.3, and we recommend it.

Android OS updates are a challenge because many device providers (for smartphones, for example) are slow to update the OS. Going outside of the providers’ recommended OS sometimes means not being able to use the device on their system, so upgrading can be risky. The latest version is Lollipop (5.1.1), and it’s predecessor is KitKat (4.4w2). We recommend checking with your device provider before upgrading.

The latest version is 8.3, and it seems solid. Apple controls the OS closely, and this one is good!

My favorite part of iOS 8 is the ability to pay for things with Apple Pay. Apple Pay is the most secure payment method available because it doesn’t actually transfer credit card or debit card information, but instead transfers a token, and the token will expire. Apple Pay requires an iPhone 6 or 6+, a newer iPad, or an Apple Watch connected to an iPhone 5 or 6.

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