Woman using a Windows laptop

On July 29, 2015, Microsoft is bringing fundamental changes to the classic operating system with its Windows 10 release.

Are these changes good or bad?  Where do they stack up for your business?  Should you bother trying to change? Or should you just scrap Microsoft and get a Mac instead?

Here are 10 reasons for businesses to consider Windows 10:

1. You Are Running a Version Prior to Windows 7

If you are on anything prior to Windows 7 you absolutely should upgrade.  Are you on Vista or even XP?  This would be a great time to upgrade to the latest operating system.  You’ll probably want to combine this with a hardware upgrade since if you are running anything prior to Windows 7 the hardware is very likely in need of replacement.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to upgrade to Windows 10.  Using an untested operating system carries some risk.  Windows 8 isn’t an OS we recommend for business users so that leaves you with Windows 7, an OS that is 6 years old already.  We can help you determine what makes sense for your company.

2. It’s Free!

Upgrading to Windows 10 is free if you are currently running Windows 7 or Windows 8.  However, according to Microsoft it will only be free for a year after it’s released and only if you are not running the “Enterprise Version” (which is almost exclusively used by very large businesses).  For most small and mid-sized businesses on the Pro or Home version, this will mean a free upgrade.  We recommend being cautious about the upgrade.  You’ll want to confirm the applications your company uses will be compatible with Windows 10.  This is a process we can help you with.

3. This is the Last Version of Windows

Microsoft has been saying that this version of Windows will break from the traditional cycle of huge operating system launches every few years.  Big updates many times meant big problems including compatibility, cost, and the fact that businesses just don’t like to upgrade something that works.  Given that Windows XP still enjoys a 12% market share, barely less than Windows 8, you can see why they might want to change things up.

And everyone else is doing it.  Apple has been on OSX since 2001.  And it also costs zero dollars.  People just expect the operating system to be a loss leader and Microsoft has had to make major changes to accommodate this.

So now Windows 10 will constantly be updated with features over time.  Instead of new features arriving in a major service pack or the next major operating system, they’ll be delivered when they are ready.  At least for those who want them.  Businesses will have the ability to turn off new feature delivery to help prevent those features from causing problems before they have a chance to test them out.  The idea is that you’ll never have to go buy another operating system again.

This is a Scrum-style approach to delivering software.  Get completed features in the hands of your users as quickly as possible instead of delivering them years later only to find out that no one actually wanted that feature to begin with.  It should be a welcome change for most.

4. The Start Menu

One of Windows 8’s most hated changes, especially for business users, was the replacement of the start menu with the start screen.  Instead of a handy menu that was purpose-built to help you find programs, users were presented with a confusing full-screen experience that ripped them out of what they were doing.  Just take a look at this video for an example of why this change was a tough pill to swallow:

Microsoft has realized its error and has brought back the start menu in Windows 10.  It still has “Live Tiles” that you can pin to the right, but you can also show all of your programs by clicking “All Apps”.  This combines all of your traditional desktop-based programs with Microsoft’s “modern” style apps.  In other words, it combines apps that you get from the Windows Store that are meant to run on any device with traditional keyboard and mouse applications.

5. You Can Use Your Keyboard and Mouse Without It Driving You Crazy

Related to the Start Menu discussion above, you can use a keyboard and mouse with this operating system without taking a bridge or installing Classic Shell as a start menu replacement.  Honestly, I still prefer Classic Shell’s 3-column start menu layout for power users with a lot of programs installed, but for most folks, the built-in Start Menu is finally usable again.

Microsoft focused on improving the keyboard and mouse experience with Windows 10 and by doing so made it much more usable for businesses compared to Windows 8.  They removed the forced gestures that only made sense with a tablet.  And all apps, including “modern” ones, run in Windowed mode now instead of running full screen.  Before, all modern apps had to be full-screen.  This is a problem for business users who need to multitask between several different applications to do their jobs (Email, web, office products, line of business app, etc).  Now, you can drag and drop to your heart’s content regardless of what kind of code is at the root of your program.

6. It’s Faster

Compared to Windows 7, performance has been drastically improved, especially boot up time and general responsiveness.  Many of these improvements were included in Windows 8 already so if you are already on Windows 8 the change will be more subtle.

Just make sure you’ve upgraded your hard drive to an SSD.  There’s only so much speed you can get out of a computer with spinning disks.

7. Multiple Desktops

This is a power user feature and won’t be for everyone.

With multiple desktops you can have a set of applications running in one “desktop” and then another set running in a second “desktop”.  You can then flip between the two desktops when needed.  An example is separating programs to limit distractions.  Powerpoint, PDF documents, and Word could be open on one desktop to keep you focused, then you could flip back to another with Outlook, Skype, and your task list.

Or you could have all your work applications running on your Work desktop then during lunch flip to your personal desktop that has Facebook, an IM program, or other personal software.

8. File Explorer Quick Access

When you launch File Explorer it now presents you with a list of your frequently accessed folders and most recently accessed files.  This is a great way to pick back up where you left off and easily access your most used files.

This is a great addition to the jump lists that have already been available in prior versions of Windows.  If you didn’t know, right-clicking on a program in the taskbar presents you with a “Jump List” menu that presents the most recently accessed files that the program can open.  You can also pin your most frequently accessed files to this Jump List for the documents you edit frequently.

9. Cortana

Cortana is Microsoft’s Siri.  The name comes from the artificial intelligence in Microsoft’s Halo video game series.

You can use Cortana as a digital assistant to look up all kinds of internet-based information or ask to open up programs on your computer.  It can also search files on your computer by asking it things like “find Excel documents about project tasks”.

10. You’ll Have to Do It Someday

If you don’t go to a Mac or some other vendor, you’ll need to go to Windows 10 eventually.  Microsoft’s old operating systems are only supported for a limited time.  As we’ve seen with Windows XP, support eventually runs out and you’ll no longer get critical security updates.  Extended support, including critical security updates, is set to expire on January 14, 2020, for Windows 7 and January 10, 2023, for Windows 8.

If what Microsoft says regarding the permanence of Windows 10 is true, it will be the last major operating system upgrade you’ll have to do and you’ll need to move to it at some point.

Bottom Line

Our recommendation is to wait on Windows 10 until at least 2016 to give Microsoft time to fix any initial bugs found in the operating system.  The traditional advice has been to wait for the first service pack with all new major operating systems.  Since the days of service packs are probably behind us, the equivalent amount of time to patch bugs should be given.

Starting in 2016, there will be a few reasons not to upgrade to Windows 10 and a lot of reasons to do so while making sure your business doesn’t fall behind in technology.

We’re happy to help you with the transition!  Let us come in for a free IT Assessment or contact us and let us know how we can help you!

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