It’s Time to Make a Decision About Windows 10

windows-10Windows 10 has now been available for almost a year, and the opportunity to claim your free upgrade (if you’re running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1) will end on July 29th of this year. While there have been many issues with the upgrade process, including reported forced installs, driver issues after installation, and some reports of constant rebooting (some of which I have personally witnessed), overall the upgrade process is very smooth. If you have not yet upgraded, there are a few issues to consider.

Is it really better?

In general, Windows 10 has proven to be faster than Windows 7 and 8.1 on most hardware. If your system runs well now, it should run equally well (if not somewhat better) after you upgrade. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, so be sure to check with your computer’s manufacturer to be certain that your specific model can run Windows 10 properly.

Reasons Not to Upgrade

If you have a system that was recently infected with malware, and/or hasn’t been thoroughly cleaned, an upgrade may be a bad idea. Upgrades to Windows 10 are most often “in-place” upgrades that can sometimes inherit the problems that were already present in the system. If this is the case for you, a “clean install” is the better choice, but know that a clean install is a longer, more involved process, and is something that you may not want to attempt on your own.

Also, if you have older software, be sure to check if it is compatible with Windows 10. I have seen problems most often with accounting software and other database-driven titles. If you fall into this category, stick with the Windows version you currently have and don’t upgrade until you replace your computer.

Having an older computer increases the chances that you will have older, possibly incompatible software and hardware, If you see yourself replacing your PC within the next year, avoid the upgrade and in the meantime take an inventory of your software to see if you will need new versions of anything.

Remember, Windows 7 will be supported until January 2020, and Window 8.1 until 2023. For more information, refer to the Windows Lifecycle Fact Sheet.

The Final Word

The decision to upgrade to Window 10, regardless of what Microsoft says, should be made after careful consideration of the issues presented above, as well as your particular circumstances. It’s a big step, and any problems can cause many lost hours of productivity. If you’re not completely comfortable with the process, seek professional help to make the transition as smooth as possible.

I recently had the pleasure of participating in an advisory board for a technical school. The school was looking to improve the employability of its graduates, with a distinct focus on computer proficiency.

The meeting went very well. It is always encouraging to see professionals come together with the goal of creating greater opportunities for those wanting to learn and grow in a career. One overriding thing I noticed however is a growing chasm that has supposedly been closed for some time. Here are my thoughts.

The “Digital Divide” as it’s called, or the inequality of access to digital information, has existed since the beginning of the Internet. Many believe that because the Internet is so pervasive, it alone can bridge this divide and level the playing field for those who are less fortunate.

Unfortunately, I am witnessing a distressing trend. It has been said that the explosion of smartphones and tablets, especially among people of lower economic status, is the great equalizer of this generation. Mobile devices have brought the Internet to countless people who otherwise would have limited, if any access otherwise. As with any technology, the rule of unintended consequences applies. While mobile devices have indeed granted access to millions, it has done so in a way that limits the overall utility of the information that is accessed.

A Narrow View

Mobile devices are basically small computers, and through a web browser and apps, give their owner a wealth of information and capabilities. The downside is that these devices also foster a “good enough” mentality which results in a lack of professional skills that are needed in any modern work environment. An excellent example is keyboard skills. While schools can teach typing, not practicing¬†those skills at home (because of a lack of a computer) creates a situation where one subconsciously types as they do on a smartphone — namely, in abbreviations, poor spelling, and brief, often unintelligible speech. Certainly their friends know what they are saying, but such a message in an e-mail would not be acceptable in a professional environment.

Speaking of e-mail, it is also telling that many young people do not know how to properly address and send an e-mail. Apps have given us easy access to messaging through Facebook, Whatsapp, Kik, Snapchat, etc. After the initial e-mail address setup of an Android or Apple account, many never use that e-mail address again, thus forgetting how to use this most basic communication method.

The web is amazing, but have you ever stopped to think about how many websites are not easily usable on a phone or tablet? For example, have you ever tried to submit a job application on a smartphone? How about writing a resume? Not having access to a computer limits the things you can do, mobile device or not. The idea that a mobile device can completely replace a computer is a great fallacy that sadly many of us blindly believe. As you read this, you may be thinking, “what is he talking about? I use e-mail, the web, etc. every day!” Of course you do – but those in my age group (40 and up) are not the problem. It is the group of young people coming out of high school and looking to enter the workforce who are lacking these most basic skills.

A Responsibility

So how do we solve this issue? I think that we need to take a step back and understand that while technology changes, there will always be a basic set of skills and capabilities that all job candidates need to be successful in the workforce. “Hunt and peck” typing is not acceptable, even in environments where a computer is not accessed all day. A mobile device cannot completely replace a computer; proper typing, the ability to create professional documents, and the need to access information in a large format will always be necessary. We (parents and school systems) have a responsibility to make access to, and usage of computers a priority. The amount of money spent on a smartphone and cell service these days easily exceeds the cost of a basic laptop. We also need to embrace and encourage these skills from an early age. Today’s young people are very adept at picking up new technologies, but it’s up to us to show them just how important a real computer is.

A smartphone is great but it is a companion device, not a replacement, especially for someone who is competing for a job.

Windows XPToday is the day. After almost 13 years, Microsoft is ending support for Windows XP, perhaps the most popular operating system of all time. While it was great in its heyday, it has become a mess to maintain and has been greatly surpassed by the speed and security of Windows 7 and 8.

If you are still using Windows XP at home or in your workplace, you are putting yourself at serious risk. It is widely believed that hackers, scammers and other miscreants will attack XP with renewed vigor since they know there will be no new security updates coming along. Do not fall into the false hope that your anti-virus software will protect you. Flaws in the operating system itself can easily slip by undetected, so it is in your best interest to upgrade or replace those aging computers.

You need a plan. It does not need to be complicated, but you definitely need to have a strategy in place. The transition process will take several hours, and you basically you have two choices; upgrade to a newer Windows version on your current computer, or replace the computer. Either way, hire a professional. I say this because there are many potential pitfalls involved in an upgrade or replacement, and a pro will have the skills, experience and tools needed to make the transition as smooth as possible. A pro will also be sure to preserve your data.

Of course, Divergex offers a specially-designed service just for the transition from XP to Windows 7 or 8, starting at $325 per PC (including the cost of Windows). Give us a call at 916-271-6369 or visit our contact page for more information.

From The Blog