Older Windows Versions May Cause Problems For Agency Systems

Las Vegas

Older versions of the Microsoft Windows operating system are far less efficient and may hurt performance of agency management systems, according to Tim Mann, a systems expert with Helix Information Services, Portland, Ore.

Manns remarks were part of a presentation–”Compare and Contrast Windows Operating Systems”–delivered here recently at the 17th Annual Education Conference of Applied Systems Client Network.

“Unless theyre in a terminal server environment, Windows 95 users are currently hurting themselves” in terms of performance, Mann declared. He added that Windows 98 is “better,” and that Windows 2000 is “better still.

“Windows 95 [combined] with old hardware could easily waste an hour each day,” said Mann. “Microsoft has ended support for Windows 95. If something goes wrong, you have no recourse.”

Mann noted that Windows 98 “is still a good operating system,” but he asserted that “Windows 2000 is the way to go, especially with later versions of Applied software.

“Hopefully,” he added, “no one is on Windows [Millennium Edition]. I dont even want to go there.”

According to Mann, the development of Windows 2000 Professional is comparable in magnitude to the development of Windows 95 as a replacement for the Windows 3.x series. “Its much more stable,” said Mann of Windows 2000. “You can be up and running for two or three days without having to reboot [Windows].”

Mann recommended that agents who use older Windows versions “increase the purchasing cycle on workstations,” buying machines with faster processors and Windows 2000 or higher.

“Its worth it to get back the time, [and end the] frustration,” he stated.

Regarding the latest versions of Windows–Windows XP Professional and XP Home Edition, Mann advised: “Dont bother with Home.” He pointed out that the Home Edition of XP lacks the networking support needed for most agency offices. “Even if you buy it for use at home, the kids cant hook up to their college networks,” he noted. “Youll pay about $180 for XP Professional, but its worth it.”

While he likes Windows 2000 best, Mann conceded that it is not available on most new computers. He recommended that agencies purchase machines with Windows XP Professional loaded, “then load and install Windows 2000 yourself.”

Whether or not agencies install Windows 2000, however, they should purchase workstations loaded with Windows XP Professional, he said. The newest Windows version is more likely to support newer software versions and services offered by Microsoft and other vendors, he noted.

On the hardware side, Mann recommended that agencies purchase workstations with a minimum of 256K (kilobytes) of RAM (random access memory). He also suggested choosing PCs that are equipped with “high-end Pentium III” or the newer Pentium IV microprocessors. Faster hard drives7,200 rpm or higher–are also a good idea, he said.

When it comes to the question of replacing computers versus upgrading the machines, Mann advised agents not to upgrade “unless you plan to keep the machine for another two years.”

Virus protection is another important issue when purchasing new workstations, said Mann. “Get rid of any pre-loaded virus systems” on computers purchased at retail, he advised. “Buy an enterprise-class virus protection system. It will eliminate a ton of your problems.”


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, November 18, 2002. Copyright 2002 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.