As a brief introduction, an operating system or 'OS' is the software which runs your computer - windows or linux for PC, MacOS for Macs, iOS for iPads or iPhones, Android for other smartphones. It does the busywork to manage your hardware and make sure you can run your apps. But like all things software-based, operating systems gather dust, so to speak, and cease to be usable eventually. There are many operating systems which are out of date, or soon to be out of date. Windows 7 and 8 are already unusable, while Windows 10 has 2 years to go before it will stop receiving security updates and cease to be safe on the net.
There are a few ways to get your windows PC up to Windows 11 before the cut-off date of October 14th, 2025. The first is to buy a new computer - not something I'd normally advise, but if your computer is over ten years old, it might be worth doing. The second is to upgrade your existing Windows 10 installation to Windows 11 - which, contrary to what Microsoft has said, works on 90% of computers out there, including ones as old as 15 years. Occasionally I'll run into a computer which won't upgrade for some reason, but the majority of computers do it without issue.
A third option is to do a clean installation of Windows 11 using the Windows 10 key. If you do this, Windows 11 makes it tricky to create a 'local' account (an account not tied to a particular microsoft ID) but it is possible. The advantages of a local account are that you can set a computer up to be resold without knowing the Microsoft account details of the buyer, and less tracking of your activities and data by Microsoft. 11 has grown on me, but it's still an over-designed re-jig of Windows 10 with the differences being largely superficial.
Similarly to Microsoft, Apple tells their customers they can't upgrade Mac's to the most recent version of MacOS due to hardware incompatibility. Sometimes this is true, but mostly it's not. And it's unfortunate because internet browsers only tend to support the more recent versions of MacOS, meaning an older Mac becomes useless on the internet. But a 2013 iMac can run the most recent MacOS "Ventura" without issue; the key to bypassing this forced obsolescence is a program called called Opencore. Documentation is available, but it's very much an expert job to get this done - and you need to make sure you have your data backed up.
It's funny how computers are designed to run pretty much any software, but it's the software companies now telling us which computers we can use and which we can't. "Fight the power!", and all that. Linux and the open-source community are the only havens of sanity in this mess, but their userbase tends to be heavily techie and unfriendly to novices. I'd like for that to change, but such things tend to require the cooperation and structure which businesses provide and which open-source communities, typically, do not.
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