The difference between a software update and a software upgrade is like the difference between servicing your old bike and buying a new one.
So, what exactly are the differences between a software update and a software upgrade, and why are they important?
Software updates are a way for software developers to fine-tune a product to make it the best it can be. They offer small, frequent improvements rather than major changes. Unlike a software upgrade, updates need the existing software program you’re using to work.
Updates sometimes run automatically in the background. Other times, software updates (commonly referred to as ‘patches’) come in the form of a free download. They’re usually necessary for your product to continue running successfully.
Simply put, software updates modify, fix and alter your current software program on a regular basis. They’re the software equivalent of keeping your bicycle oiled. It’s still the same bike, it just runs smoother.
A software upgrade is a bit different. Instead of building on your existing program, a software upgrade is a new version of the software product entirely. It’s a bit like buying a new bike the same make as your old one, but with flashy new enhancements already added. And it comes with a host of new functionality that makes it a superior bike to your old one.
While updates are often small and free, and rarely demand much attention, a software upgrade is a much bigger process. Unlike updates, software upgrades aren’t always compulsory or necessary for a program to keep running. Completing a product upgrade may involve a new purchase or pricing system. Because of this, companies will often offer existing customers incentives to upgrade their software. For example, they might reduce the upgrade cost or stop supporting their legacy program.
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