From the June 2015 issue of Investment Advisor • Subscribe!

What Does Windows 10 Mean for Advisors?

Microsoft's impending update could be good for advisors

The soon-to-be-released Windows 10 may have some benefits for advisors. The soon-to-be-released Windows 10 may have some benefits for advisors.

The next operating system from Microsoft, Windows 10, is expected to be officially released later this summer. Some advisors might be thinking, “Wait a minute, what happened to Windows 9?” Actually, Microsoft decided that since Windows 10 was a significant improvement and not just an incremental update from Windows 8, it needed more impactful branding.

Unfortunately for Microsoft, Windows 8 faced similar challenges to what the company experienced with Windows Vista. Adoption numbers from NetMarketShare show there are more desktops running Windows XP than Windows 8. This is an amazing statistic considering support for Windows XP ended in April 2014. Also interesting to note, Windows 7 adoption is over 58%, which is the operating system that immediately followed the troubled Windows Vista. The introduction of Windows 10 might follow the same story, i.e., replacing an inferior predecessor.

If you are considering upgrading to Windows 10, the first step is to inventory the operating system and hardware currently used in your firm. Often, it is actually the age of the PC that influences the timing of the upgrade rather than an outdated operating system.

However, Microsoft's strategy for introducing Windows 10 might speed up the rate of adoption. Microsoft will offer a free upgrade to Windows 10 during the first year of availability for qualified PCs running Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.

One of the big risks for advisors when upgrading to a new operating system is whether or not your current programs will function without any issues. Lots of promises have been made that if your programs run on Windows 7 or 8.1, they should run on Windows 10. However, I highly recommend that you upgrade one PC to Windows 10, then put that machine through its paces. Test every program and software package, every process and procedure to ensure everything is working as expected. Your technology providers will be doing the same thing with their programs, so lean on them to get a complete understanding of what your firm should expect. Being an early adopter can sometimes have its challenges and frustrations, but it can also lead to nice benefits and efficiency gains that come with leveraging the latest technology.

Windows 10 includes a number of new features. Interesting to note, the Start menu returns after many complaints that it was not included with the original Windows 8 release. A new feature is the ability to create virtual desktops to provide users the ability the work with and switch between multiple desktops. This feature will be very helpful for maximizing screen space, especially when working with a single monitor.

What might be the most newsworthy feature of Windows 10 is the release of Microsoft Edge, the new Web browser that will replace Internet Explorer. Edge's initial goal is to improve the overall browsing experience with speed, security and a new design. Furthermore, the new browser includes Cortana, a virtual personal assistant. Cortana's goal is to improve the user's browsing experience by leveraging what it knows about the user. Another new feature of Edge is the ability to write directly on a Web page and share this information with another user via email or another network.

Security and versatility, including compatibility with multiple device types, also underwent major improvements in Windows 10. Microsoft's goal is to make sure the operating system is automatically updated with the latest security updates, without the user having to worry about the downloading and implementing process. Furthermore, Windows 10 will adjust according to the device being used. For example, if you are working on your laptop and then take the tablet part of the device (screen) to a quick meeting, Windows 10 will recognize this change and adjust the presentation for tablet mode. Then, when you return and reattach the screen, the desktop will change back to a more traditional PC interface.

Windows 10 could be a very important operating system for advisors. Considering the ongoing challenges and overall low adoption of Windows 8, it was an easy decision for advisors to stay with Windows 7 computers. Now, the PC marketplace is eagerly waiting for the full release of Windows 10, and advisors may quickly become part of this group if Windows 10 experiences early success and adoption.

Is it Time to Switch to An Apple-Based Platform?

Whenever you are thinking about upgrading to a new operating system, it is also a good time to evaluate switching operating systems entirely. Not that the release of Windows 10 alone should directly influence your firm in changing to an Apple-based platform, but you should review and reconfirm your criteria in this area.

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