September 2015

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Upgrade to Win 10 or Wait? That is the question.

Investing too early in an Operating System upgrade might cost more than you think.

Manny MandrusiakManny Mandrusiak,
Managing Creative Consultant,
4 Bravo Marketing

Contributing Editor

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Everyone who uses a PC knows that Microsoft has recently released the latest version of its Windows Operating System – Windows 10.  With that release comes a lot of questions, confusion, and desire to upgrade to the latest and greatest, but is it really required?  Do companies instantly need to upgrade their software as soon as a new release is out?  The short answer to that question is maybe?

There are a lot of factors that a company needs to consider before deciding to buy new licensing as it is almost always a major capital expense.  These days with global economies being in a state of constant flux, it is always good business to keep a watchful eye on the bottom line.  An unnecessary software upgrade at the wrong time may be enough to financially destabilize smaller companies, not to mention stifle productivity with the learning curve of having to get training on the new platform.  I’m probably getting a little ahead of myself.  We still need to answer the question of “Do we need to upgrade or not”?

I got some sage advice from an old IT manager years ago that I’ve always tried to heed and that is to do two things before upgrading:

  1. Stop thinking like a consumer and start thinking like a business owner, and
  1. Is this upgrade absolutely necessary to allow the company to continue running?

As consumers of electronics we always want to have the latest and greatest technology.  Call it human genetics, or call it successful product marketing, we still crave to have the newest technology before our neighbors do.  Evidence of this can be seen every time Apple launches a new version of the iPhone.  People wait in line for days to pay a huge amount of money just to be able to say that they have the newest iPhone.  In our personal lives we tend to want to live on the edge and embrace new technologies as soon as possible, not taking the time to ask if all the bugs have been worked out of the platform, or device, before we buy it.

Take a new operating system like Windows 10.  I know that there are user groups and beta testers out there who have spent countless hours trying to uncover glitches and bugs before Windows 10 was released.  I get that, but no amount to beta testing is going to uncover everything; especially conflicts with existing proprietary software pieces.  Many companies have customized third party point of sale systems, or inventory tracking software that may, or may not, be fully functional with Windows 10 and that can cause business owners a lot of unnecessary pain.

Another pain point that business owners need to face when upgrading an operating system is the rest of hardware and peripherals that are part of the network?  It is pretty common knowledge that when a new operating system is installed on systems there may be an issue with handling older printers and peripherals.

Many companies have leased equipment like printers and fax machines, and need to know if there are compatibility issues with Windows 10. Are there drivers available to install to fix compatibility issues, or are the purchases of new compatible devices to enable normal network productivity to resume.

Another thing to consider when trying to decide to upgrade to Windows 10, or not, is will Microsoft continue to support older operating systems?  Whenever I hear of a new OS upgrade I always think that older OS’s will lose support, and that is very far from the truth. Windows XP finally lost support this year but what about Windows 7?  Windows 7 is still the operating system that many businesses continue to use because it functions well and it has been well supported.  According to Microsoft there is no need to worry as Windows 7 will be well supported until January 2020.  That means that there is no immediate need to invest in a Windows 10 upgrade as Windows 7 will continue to steam along just fine.

Lastly there is the learning curve for corporate staff.  Anytime a software upgrade of any kind is conducted there is always the issue of getting everyone up to speed with the new platform.  Training usually comes as an afterthought when the complaints start rolling in about lost productivity because no one knows the short cuts.  When the decision to upgrade is made, start talking with training companies and look at plans to get all involved with the upgrade up-to-speed before, during, and after the upgrade.  The training reduces the amount of time your people are waiting for answers to solve a problem and becoming frustrated with the entire process.  Essentially it goes to corporate morale, and if an upgrade causes low morale due to challenges learning the new software then that costs money which directly impacts the bottom line in a negative way.  What is desired is to have everyone pumped about the upgrade and ready to surge ahead with new tech.

We’ve covered a few points regarding deciding whether to upgrade a business to Windows 10 and hopefully there has been some food for thought before rushing into an upgrade that may end up costing your business more money than initially budgeted for. 

Personally I look at upgrading like surfing.  As a surfer you don’t want to catch the wave too early because it might have enough momentum to let you ride it.  Instead you want to catch the wave once it has built enough power to have some serious momentum and let you enjoy a good smooth ride.  I look at the release of Windows 10 a lot like riding that wave.  I want to see the momentum build, and get the kinks out so that I know I will have a good experience.

Until then I have no issues sticking with the stability of Windows 7, or Windows 8 with the Classic Shell installed.  For me it is about being able to use the tools that I need to get the job done quickly and efficiently without incurring additional overhead costs.  I would rather keep overhead costs manageable, and save the working capital for hardware upgrades or for upgrading specialized software programs where newer versions include features that are essential for increased productivity.

I work with companies all the time that are just now moving to Windows 7 and Office 2010 because Windows XP is no longer supported.  When they are looking to make the upgrade to a new version of Windows no one screams “Windows 8 Please”!  They look at Windows 7 because it has history, and Windows 10 will eventually too.  Let’s just let that wave build a little momentum before we invest.


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