Just had an interesting discussion which I thought I’d bring up here, to see what others think. My mum’s aunt read an article about how Vista goes out of support in a couple of months, and got (justifiably) worried, since her 2008-era laptop is running it. So she asked my mum and my mum asked me, what should she do? As background, she’s not tech literate; uses the laptop to browse the web, buy things on Amazon, read emails, store photos, burn CDs of photos as backup. She doesn’t have a great deal of money. I gave the following breakdown of options:
- upgrade it to Windows 7 herself. Advantage: cheap (~£20). Disadvantage: difficult; if anything at all goes wrong she’ll have no idea how to fix it and she won’t have a laptop.
- pay a bloke in a computer shop to upgrade it to Windows 7. ~£100, which is a lot considering it only buys her three more years.
- sit tight and hope nothing goes wrong, i.e., don’t upgrade. This is doable, and likely to not be a HUGE problem – she uses either Chrome or Firefox as browser and gmail as mail, so she’s not using IE and Outlook here and therefore chances of it all breaking on end-of-support day are minimal, and future security problems are unlikely to affect her much because Chrome/FF are not tied to the MS support cycle. But This Is Nonetheless A Sign To Think About Upgrading, in my opinion.
- buy a Chromebook. Advantage: cheapish considering you get new hardware out of it (~£180). Disadvantage:
#include <std_chromebook_disadvantages.h>, plus it’s not what she’s used to.
- buy an Android tablet. Advantage: cheap considering you get new hardware (£100). Disadvantage: not what she’s used to, likely to become obsolete much quicker than a new laptop will (will it still be useful in 8 years? Doubt it.)
- buy a new Windows 10 laptop. (Nowhere seems to sell W8.) Advantage: what she’s used to. Disadvantages: only what she’s used to if she turns off all the fullscreen tablet Windows Phone stuff; expensive (~£250); stays shackled to the Man
- Install Ubuntu herself on existing laptop. Not on my recommendations list at all, partially because there’s no way she’d be able to do it (installing might be OK but transferring all existing data photos etc isn’t) and partially because even lightweight Ubuntus will run like death on such a machine unless she’s Lubuntu or something and then she won’t get how to use it.
- Buy new laptop with Linux on it. Hard to do in the UK – you have to buy online, which means “bundle it up at your own expense and send it back if it goes wrong” if you buy a cheap one; also, not any cheaper than buying a bargain bucket Windows laptop at PC World.
- Apple stuff (iPad and Macbook) were not on the list either, partially because of high expense and partially because she’s used her son’s iPad and was extremely confused by it but has used my mum’s Samsung tablet and was much happier with that, she says. (Which was interesting.)
So I said: get her to go into a shop and try out an Android tablet, a Chromebook, and a Windows 10 laptop, eliminate from the list any that she doesn’t get on with, and then buy the cheapest of the three that remains.
I’d be interested in any other thoughts people might have.