AOH :: UPGRADQZ.TXT|
A software upgrade quiz
Is it over between you and your Software?
Has the time come to upgrade - or even switch - to another software partner?
Score yourself and find out. By: Marty Jerome
Sooner or later, we all face a software upgrade decision that requires some
soul searching. Most of us have irrational attachments to our programs, so
we're reluctant to switch, even when a newer version offers clear productivity
We wondered how Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown would approach the
delicate question of whether to stand by your old program - probably a trusted
companion by now - or to take a deardevil plunge into the newest version. So
we devised our own variation on the Cosmo quiz.
Circle the answer the best describes how you feel about the program in
1... How many upgrades have you passed up since you first became involved with
your current application?
d. Four or more
Don't include upgrades shipped only to correct bugs in previous versions, such
as dBase IV Version 1.1 or DOS 4.01. Count only those that added substantial
features or brought a new dimension of power to the program. Lotus 1-2-3
Release 3, for example, added 3-D worksheets and a new add-in language.
Microsoft Word for Windows gave its standard editor a graphical interface and
2... How often does your software make you feel limited in what you can do?
a. Almost never
b. Infrequently; only when the task is unusual
d. Every time I boot
The word processor that can't import graphics and the spreadsheet that can't
link columns limit you only if you need to perform those taskes. Measure your
software's limits by the specific jobs you want to accomplish but can't. Put
your wish list of features aside for the moment. They're the icing - we're
talking about the cake.
3... You discover that your potential upgrade requires the company of other
software. How much fooling around are you willing to put up with?
b. One utility
c. A couple of simple programs
d. An entirely new operating environment
The cost of an upgrade can be deceptive if you also have to invest in memory
managers, soft fonts, TSR traffickers, or a new operating environment, such as
Windows or OS/2. These add cost, learning curves, and complexity of software
you'll need so your upgrade can live up to its promises.
4... How often do you turn to external programs or stray from your computer
altogether to make up for your current software's "inadequacies"?
b. I indulge in the occasional utility - so what?
c. I oblige many programs, few of them meaningful
d. I keep a stable of tools that I use regularly
If you have to export a database file to a word processor in order to get a
professional looking report, or if your desktop publishing program requires a
half a dozen add-on fonts, a file conversion utility, and a shareware printer
driver, chances are that a simple upgrade will better fulfill your needs.
When evaluating an upgrade's features, give primacy to thosw which simplify
the way you currently do your work.
5... How often does your current software conflict with the files of friends,
family, and colleagues?
b. Occasionally, but that seldom interferes with my work
d. My friends and family hate me for it
Many upgrades accept a broader range of file formats than earlier versions do.
If your program limits the files you can exchange with coworkers, user groups,
and friends, see if the upgrade offers greater compatibility. Its
import/export feature should be fast and effective for a variety of formats.
The productivity payoff can offset the cost of the upgrade very quickly.
6... Cound the upgrade's most appealing features. How many of them are truly
important to your relationship?
d. All of them; I can't live without this program
Count only those features that you will actually use. These days, software
manufacturers routinely tack on backup utilities, desktop managers, pop-up
calculators, and other what's-its to bolster corporate sales. Micro managers
like a program loaded with features; that program, at least superficially,
serves a larger range of users. Let honesty prevail in answering here: How
many features will really help you work smarter?
7... How much work and time are you willing to devote to your new
a. First I have to learn Windows, then the program's macro language,
b. A few hours with the manual and tech support
c. An hour with the manual
The honeymoon ends when learning the upgrade begins. Getting familiar with
your new program means more than learning its command structure. Estimate the
time it will take you to get up and running in the way you actually plan to
use the application: from installation to the first printed hard copy.
Remember to allot plenty of time for converting old files, writing printer
strings or communications scripts, building macros, and so on.
8... What demands will your software upgrade make on your hardware?
a. I'll have to buy a new PC
b. It will cost at least $1,000 in additional hardware
c. I'll have to buy a memory upgrade
d. My PC can run it as is
Nothing is more aggravating than buying an application only to discover that
you don't have the hardware to run it. Memory is the most oft-overlooked
hardware consideration. Others can be subtle: some programs are forlorn
withoug mice or scanners; others perform miserably without Super VGA graphics
or a very speedy hard disk.
9... How intimate are you with the application you're currently involved with?
a. I see it on and off, infrequently
b. It's one of four applications I see every day
c. It's my main program
d. It's my environment, my life
Tell the truth.
10... What are the real tradeoffs in this relationship?
a. The upgrade costs as much as the original program
b. The upgrade's price is half that of the original program
c. The upgrade price is one-third that of the original program
d. Who cares? The company is paying
When evealuating costs, also keep in mind how frequently the manufacturer
sails out new versions of the application. If a maker dispatches upgrades
every six months but charges full price for each one, you'll want to be very
choosy about which one you buy.
11... Would a whole new progam - not merely an upgrade - better satisfy your
a. Yes; another application could solve my current problem and several
b. Somewhat; I could do the job faster with another program
c. A little; a new application would perform about as well as an
upgrade, but it costs more and I'd have to learn it
d. No; the upgrade would let me do the job in the fastest, easiest
Users who love an application often have trouble recognizing when they've
Even the most sophisticated word processor can't compete with a desktop
publishing package, such as Ventura Publisher or PageMaker for churning out
If the quick-and -dirty budget projection that you whipped together on a
spreadsheet has grown into your company's central forcasting engine, you might
need a financial modeling program such as Javelin or TM/1.
When the job at hand substantially outstrips your applications intrinsic
abilities, an upgrade probably won't help. It's time to look elsewhere.
12... Leaving all practical consderations aside, how deep is your love for
a. Love, schmuv; I'll buy it when I have a 486 to run it on
b. Cute little thing, but I can live without it
c. Sure would look good on my hard drive
d. Too awesome to live without
For every "a" answer giver yourself 0 points. A "b" answer is worth 1 point; a
"c" 2; and a "d" 3.
0-6: Keep your wallet in your pocket. This upgrade would offer you nothing
even if it were free. Your current application meets your needs
perfectly well. And you're too sensible to let some hot new upgrade
steal your heart.
7-15: This upgrade probably isn't for you (unless, of course, someone else is
paying for the package). Wait to see what the next upgrade will
offer. Also, consider whether an entirely different application could
better fulfill your desires.
16-24: Ah, the fickle heart. As much as you yearn for this upgrade, several
factors prevent you from snapping it up. Make a list of these foibles
and a list of the productivity advantages that the upgrade offers.
Then take this test again with those considerations in mind.
25-36: What are you waiting for? You won't know true happiness until you
become one with your upgrade. Buy it immediately. And best wishes.
The entire AOH site is optimized to look best in Firefox® 3 on a widescreen monitor (1440x900 or better).
Site design & layout copyright © 1986- AOH
We do not send spam. If you have received spam bearing an artofhacking.com email address, please forward it with full headers to email@example.com.