Unlike in the Clash song I hope you don’t call me Darling when asking the question, but I do hope you have been asking it and for those of you who we provide Managed Services for I hope we have been answering it. The answer we have given most likely has been, it depends. There is a lot that goes into answering that question and since Windows 10 came out we have been working with clients to methodically work towards an answer. But with the big push by Microsoft to alert everyone that Free upgrade is coming to an end on July 29th the question is getting asked more and louder by everyone I talk about computers with. So I thought I would give you the 4 things you should consider when deciding whether you should take the big plunge or not. If you do consider them I am sure you will be better prepared when you upgrade because it’s not if but when you will have Windows 10 on your PC.
#1 Compatibility: So this is always first when looking to make a major system upgrade of any kind. Will what you use to do work as you expect after the upgrade. This ranges from software and SaaS (Software as a Service) to hardware/peripherals like printers, camera, and headsets among others. First step is to take a full inventory of your programs and hardware. Then take that list and go to each vendors website and review their compatibility list for Windows 10. If you are so inclined also look at their support pages/forums for any references to issues with Windows 10. Many times it will be listed as compatible but you will find in the support forums where people had issues either in the upgrade or after the upgrade. You might get a Go/No-Go from this work or you may get a list of things to test and consider as part of #4 below.
#2 Usability: So what does Windows 10 do that Windows 7 doesn’t? Good question and this link will give you a quick cheat sheet on differences. This link will give you a better deep look at Windows 10 and it’s features. These links along with many other articles online will help you decide if what Windows 10 offers is something you want. Also another way to test things out would be to do a test upgrade on one PC in the office if and use it to check things out and allow users to test it out. One of the biggest areas is the Start Menu, while it is back and mostly like Windows 7 it is just different enough to require some time to get used to. For me it has been one of the good new features in how it searches and organizes things for me. But that is just me.
#3 Life Cycle: So you have a Windows 7 machine you got back in August of 2009 which puts it well over the 3-5 year normal business life cycle for a PC or maybe you got it in 2012. Should you be looking at doing an upgrade on it? In our opinion we would say no. The hardware may be compatible from above but the odds are good that it will run much slower than it currently does. Now what if your PC was purchased in 2015, then we might need to look further into things. Microsoft will support Windows 7 through 2020 as part of their extended support program, which means they will continue to issue security and bug patches during that time. So if you just purchased your PC with Windows 7 on it you should be fine with a 3-5 year replacement cycle. What you might have to consider is that Microsoft will stop manufacturers from selling new PCs with Windows 7 in October of 2016. If you are a business with PCs on a replacement cycle you might start having a mixed environment starting in October whether you want one or not. All of this might need to be addressed as part of #4 also.
#4 Cost: Why does cost matter isn’t the upgrade free? Yes it is but the time for you or someone to take the steps above aren’t. And if you have a number of computers in your network with different programs and peripherals the amount of time needed can balloon. Then there is the learning curve time to get used to the inevitable changes. We have normally invested 8 hours for each PC setup/type in research and testing. Users are probably going to “lose” as much time in testing once the upgrade is done to their system. This doesn’t take into account the “issues” that we see at least once or twice in a deployment upgrade cycle like this. There is always that one or 2 applications that should work and do work for most people but a few have issues that require time to resolve or at worst reload to fix. Now what if you decided not to upgrade your current systems and start having some on Windows 7 and some on Windows 10 as we move past October 2016? What we have seen is many businesses will hit a point where more people will be on Windows 10 and the cost of time when it comes to some people doing things one way and others doing it another will cause them to invest in a large upgrade event. Not a bad thing in and of itself but what was the cost of time as this point was reached in productivity? I can’t say for sure but you have to assume there is some. So also ensure you review your overall upgrade plan if you have a number of machines in your business.
So should you stay or should you go? I can’t answer that but if you take the time or have someone take the time to review each of these 4 items you will at least go into the upgrade with eyes wide open and prepared for the benefits and the issues that will come with the upgrade. One last note, Microsoft says that after July 29th they will remove the “Want to Upgrade to Windows 10” notice that many of you have seen for the past year or so on your PC. For some your IT department or provide have been suppressing that message and will also be glad to no longer have to deal with it also. So what are your plans for Windows 10? Feel free to share and if I can be of any help let me know.