March 13, 2019 Uncategorized

IT Consulting: Update vs. Upgrade

Reading Time: 3 minutes

In recent months, Microsoft has made significant changes to its updating, upgrading, and patching routines. This impacts all supported Windows devices and creates a new process for the latest versions of Windows 10. While updates and upgrades may sound deceptively similar, there are key differences. IT Consulting firms and companies like them can help navigate what changed and how to keep your system up-to-date. SUCCESS Computer Consulting breaks down what you need to know about the changes below.


Updates, also referred to as “patches,” are downloads for a software package or operating system and provide “fixes” to your current software. These fixes can correct security problems, errors, or add support for new devices. Updates tend to apply quickly and can be installed in a matter of minutes.

What you need to know/do:

SUCCESS Computer Consulting clients on the Advantage Point Network Watch service have updates for Windows and third-party applications installed automatically as a part of a nightly or weekly routine, so if this is you, you can relax and know this has already been taken care of on your behalf. If you’re not sure if you’re already taking advantage of this service, ask your IT consulting contact, organization’s primary point-person, or give us a call at (763) 593-3000.


Upgrades are entirely new versions of software or operating systems. When you install updates, it repairs or alters your existing system, while upgrades are an entirely new version.

Upgrades are also larger in size and complexity than updates and can include multiple fixes, as well as new features, new behavior, and even new visuals. Users usually have to purchase upgrades or have access to a subscription service to acquire them. Upgrades take much longer to install and must be supported by the device. The upgrade versions usually have a number associated with their name. For example, Windows 7 can be upgraded to Windows 8, and Windows 10 has multiple versions built-in (such as Windows 10 version 1709, which can be upgraded to Windows 10 version 1803 or 1809).

To avoid interfering with your workflow, upgrades should be scheduled. Upgrades can take a large amount of time to install, while updates usually take only minutes. Contact your IT consulting firm or specialist to make sure these are scheduled around heavy work times.

What, exactly, is changing?

There is one significant change in Microsoft’s update process and several notable changes in the upgrade process.

The updating process will remain the same in almost every way, with one exception: driver updates, along with security and critical updates, will be pushed. Microsoft services will roll out Microsoft signed drivers to your device as manufacturers make them available.

The upgrade process, however, will now be significantly different. In previous versions of Windows, major version releases were usually accompanied by a hardware refresh. For example, when going from Windows 7 to Windows 8, a new laptop or desktop was the impetus for the transition. In the case of “in-place” upgrades, going from Windows 7 to Windows 10, upgrades happened without purchasing hardware and tended to be painful and slow.

With Windows 10 upgrades, the over-arching program stays in place, with the upgrade happening internally, making it less painful. As long as you still have a warranty, no purchase should be necessary to upgrade. Microsoft comes out with new versions of this twice a year. This also means that older versions fall out of support much more quickly, usually at the one-year mark. Your IT consulting company or IT point-person should make sure that they are constantly checking for the latest versions of software for your company.

SUCCESS Computer Consulting can assist you in everything from scheduling your Windows upgrades to reviewing your IT maintenance program. In fact, if you’re already one of our clients, we’ve been in touch with your primary company contact to discuss the next steps and timelines. If not? Contact us at (763) 593-3000 to get started with IT support today.