The constant upgrade
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By Sophie Matthews-Paul
27 April 2012
Software drives our printers, but when's the best time to upgrade?
So Adobe is launching CS6 in a fanfare of publicity and I can't wait to upgrade my CS5.5 Design Premium to the latest version. But, in reality, do I really need to do this? Why can't I continue to potter on with existing software without being forced to empty my purse in order to gain a few additional features?
Without new and revised versions of software and hardware platforms, manufacturers wouldn't be able to continue to generate revenues. But this somewhat cynical view has to be juxtaposed against genuine improvements and, often, compatibility with other parallel products. Incremental changes aren't as obvious as sweeping new releases, but they are still intended to bring new features to the party and what needs to be assessed is how valuable these additions might be in our working lives.
Generally, in terms of shiny new computer programs, the window of opportunity for upgrading doesn't last forever. Miss one version, and you might find that a relatively inexpensive investment is going to be considerably more costly if left, and might even involve buying the whole package again from scratch.
When is the best time to upgrade? The desire for new features and greater integration leads many down the route to temptation, but this only really works at its best when everyone is singing from the same song sheet. Saving files in the latest format which can't be opened by print houses, designers or agencies might not be productive, and can be costly in terms of time.
On the other hand, being one step ahead with revisions to formats and a new bunch of design and production features can't be bad news in the longer term. And, when new versions of RIPs and colour management software offer a host of new capabilities and enticing options, such as ink saving, most people tend to jump at the opportunity to install relevant upgrades.
Hardware is driven by software and there comes a point where very old programs simply won't cut the mustard any longer. Display producers don't want to be slowed down by having to work out which version of a package they need to use in order to make their job compatible with others or to drive a printer to its best capability.
Software upgrades never seem cheap to the purchaser at the time the decision is made to bite the bullet and shell out on the newest version. But if it results in greater efficiency and more versatility in the long run, then an investment has to be worthwhile. And we need to keep software developers in business by buying their latest products or they can't invest in future developments on our behalf.
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