Written by Philip Magson
Windows is trumpeting the imminent release of Windows 10, even offering many users a free upgrade… But while you’ll be able to update at the click of a button, should you?
Microsoft is scoring points with the way it’s handling the release of its new OS. Windows 10 is releasing as a free upgrade for home and small business users (running Windows 7 and 8), while enterprise customers are being wooed by a raft of new business features. Whatever kind of user you are, Microsoft is trying to make it easy: most Windows devices will have had the Windows 10 icon sitting on their toolbar for months now, prompting them to ‘reserve’ their copy for automatic download – due for release on 29 July. Can it really be that simple?
The short answer, is “Yes”. Downloading and installing Windows 10 should be straightforward but it’s worth pausing for thought before you hit that button, especially if you’re a business user who relies on a finely-tuned network of devices…
Windows 10 represents a fundamental change for Microsoft: the company is consciously moving away from ‘versioned’ OS products and positioning Windows as an on-going, unified platform across every device. To achieve that, Microsoft is aiming for rapid, widespread uptake, which, to an extent, is following in the footsteps of Apple’s iOS success. The most recent iOS update (8.4) was released on June 30th and saw rapid uptake over the next few days: by July 5 it had reached 41.2% of all users. It looks like the new features Apple rolled out with the update – including the new Apple Music – had the desired effect.
While Apple’s success can be attributed in part to the traditional friendliness of its user experience – Microsoft has always been a different beast. I use Windows in a relatively complex business environment: my PC interacts with numerous others, running client software and other management apps – each of these involve hardware drivers, servers and other tools which are carefully set up, like my devices, to do their jobs within the specific parameters of their environment. If something changes, there could be a ripple effect.
Compatibility issues are usually annoyances but are appalling when they affect business critical software – and not just in ‘conventional’ office contexts. In engineering environments, CAD packages are used all day long, requiring huge amounts of system resources – if a CAD package were to go down suddenly, an industrial designer would be unable to work at a potentially huge cost to their business. Likewise, security software incompatible with a new OS could leave an entire system suddenly vulnerable to attack.
In the face of growing Windows 10 promotion, these are exactly the kind of potential hazards we’re trying to encourage clients to engage with. Windows Pro versions, and Windows 8,1 Enterprise updates are controlled by IT staff who will be expected to have performed due diligence for updates within their environments: are you prepared for a problem?
There are easy ways to decrease the chances of Windows 10 upgrade problems:
Specifications page: At a basic level, Microsoft has a list of specifications users can double-check to anticipate if their device will be compatible with the new OS.
Compatibility tool: Microsoft has released a compatibility tool to assess devices and indicate which hardware and software may not function with Windows 10.
File back-up: Although Microsoft has stated that the transfer of files and documents during upgrade should take place without any issues – backing up important or crucial material prior to the process is highly recommended.
Delayed upgrade: With so much pressure to upgrade, there may be a lot to be gained from holding off in the first few weeks to ensure problems are ironed out.The Windows 10 update is valid for a year – there’s no rush.
Seek expert help: We want clients to think creatively about their upgrade. By engaging with us we can anticipate problems relevant to your networks before they occur – and take steps to protect you.
Upgrades may bring benefits, but only if they’re successful – knowing the territory is always the best way to prepare safely for change. And there’s no reason your upgrade to Windows 10 should be a serious problem, if properly managed. Practically, this means taking your time, making plans, seeking advice… indeed, there are still businesses out there using much older Windows versions. Being aware of your business needs is part of the upgrade process – don’t take the plunge just because you can, and certainly not without doing your research.
Have you reserved your Window 10 update? Do you feel your business is prepared for the change? Get in touch with us and let us help with the upgrade experience…