It has been a long time coming, but Windows 7 is starting to erase the problems that Microsoft experienced with Windows Vista. For most advisors, installing Vista was never really a consideration. There was enough coverage in the technology world that demonstrated the challenges with Vista that provided advisors plenty of reasons to stick with Windows XP as their core operating system. Today, the early headlines for Windows 7 are much more positive. Microsoft recently reported that 10% of all PCs worldwide are now running Windows 7 and that business customers are starting to install the operating system.
Whether or not to upgrade to a new operating system is a question that advisors have not had to answer for quite some time. Windows XP was originally introduced way back in the Fall of 2001. From a technology perspective, that’s a lifetime ago. There will be a day in the future–perhaps as early as some time in 2011–when Microsoft will end support for Windows XP. With that in mind, advisors should make plans to replace Windows XP with Windows 7 as their core operating system. Unfortunately, it is not as easy as telling your “tech guru” to upgrade your firm to Windows 7 over the weekend, and then see to it everything is normal on Monday. However, it shouldn’t be too difficult with the right plan in place to facilitate the upgrade.
Features, Not Bugs, and Faster to Boot
It is important to understand some of benefits that your firm can expect when you install Windows 7. Initially, you will notice that Windows 7 runs much faster when it is installed on a newer computer (purchased within the last couple of years). The overall start-up, sleep, and resume process is much quicker than with Windows XP. Dave Rodman, co-founder of K&R Network Solutions in San Diego, confirms that “Windows 7 was designed to better utilize the processor and memory available in newer computers.” K&R provides comprehensive IT support for over 150 companies, including a number of RIA firms. K&R is now running Windows 7 throughout its office and is beginning to see some demand from its clients for assistance with upgrading from Windows XP. Rodman also notes that “Windows 7 has been very stable.” He noted that K&R tried installing Vista a while ago but quickly switched back to Windows XP.
There are several exciting new features in Windows 7 that advisors will find useful, including the Live Taskbars and the Snap features. Live Taskbars allows you to quickly scan the programs currently open on your computer as well as the individual files associated with each program. Snap is a tool that offers the ability to quickly arrange two windows for better viewing, especially for comparison purposes between both windows. I know many advisors currently use two monitors to do the same job today on Windows XP, but now everyone will be able to run comparisons using one monitor.
Before You Leap
A critical step prior to installing Windows 7 is to take inventory of the existing software programs used by your firm. First, you want to ensure that every software program that your firm uses is Windows 7 Certified. What this means is that the software company has tested its product with the Windows 7 operating system, and more important, that it is ready to provide support for their clients. Be sure to ask the software companies that you work with how many clients they have running Windows 7. Find out from the software maker what the overall experience has been, especially with system performance for users running Windows 7. The actual number of users a software company has running their product with Windows 7 is also a good indication of how well it is operating in real-life business scenarios. For software programs that are unlikely ever to be certified for Windows 7, there is still hope. The Professional and Ultimate versions of Windows 7 include the ability to run in Windows XP mode, which is a lifesaver if you have one or two legacy programs that your business depends on.