Nothing in Life is Truly Free
It’s difficult to say no to free stuff because—let’s face it—free stuff is awesome. From unlimited refills to “free gift with purchase”, free stuff gives us that euphoric shoplifting thrill of cheating the system (sticking it to the man!) without the risk of jail time.
That’s why when Microsoft announced that it would be rolling out the Windows 10 upgrade for free (if you are a current Windows 7 or 8 user) on July 29 of this year, many were eager to pounce on the opportunity to obtain the latest OS. As long as users upgrade within one year from the launch date, they won’t have to pay a cent for the usually pricey software.
Well, as the old adage goes, nothing in life is truly free. While we hate to be the ones to dampen your giddy, “free stuff” high, hastily upgrading your business to Windows 10 without first considering the negative side effects it may have on your current system would be a big “No-No”.
If you are a Windows 7 or Windows 8 user, by now you might have noticed a tiny Microsoft icon in your system tray. No, you’re not going crazy—it has not always been there. This little doo-dad was added to your existing Windows systems via an update as a way to encourage users to “reserve” a copy of Windows 10 prior to the official release date. Don’t worry, if you have already done this and realize after reading this (incredibly helpful, downright lifesaving) article that you should not have, then you can find out how to un-reserve your copy here.
The Problem with Immediately Upgrading
The primary issue for businesses rolling out any major upgrade, not just Windows 10, is compatibility. From accounting firms to medical offices, most businesses utilize some kind of specialized software customized for a specific field. Software vendors for such programs may or may not have upgraded their products to be compatible with the latest operating systems (Windows 10) at the time of their release.
Furthermore, even if the vendors have released updates to their software to aid in compatibility, a business will still run headlong into the same problems if it has yet to implement the newest version of the program. On top of immense frustration, these compatibility problems can disrupt users’ workflow processes by changing, renaming, moving or even removing built in features on current applications.
Although Windows checks for the compatibility of the main system hardware, other hardware devices such as printers are often overlooked during installation. While this won’t prevent a computer from running, it may prevent users from performing critical job functions—cue further frustration:
- Printers and scanners may not be compatible
- Bank software and hardware (such as check scanners) may not be compatible
- USB license keys (required for some software to run) may not be compatible
- Some monitors and video adapters may be affected
- Any USB connected hardware device may be affected
While all of this seems very scary, the Windows 10 upgrade is not inherently evil. In fact, it is supposed to correct some of the less popular aspects of Windows 8, offering desktop improvements and added security features as well as doing away with the charms bar. However, in order to upgrade your business’ systems safely, you must squash the “free stuff” instinct to upgrade automatically and opt for a controlled rollout from a qualified MSP (such as ourselves) that can make sure the upgrade is tested and compatibility has been confirmed in order to minimize any negative consequences.
After all, the upgrade will be free for an entire year. Just breathe—there is plenty of time to snag it without jumping the virtual upgrade gun. Your system will thank you.