Windows 8.1 - Is it right for you?

Ready or not, the age of Microsoft's latest operating system, Windows 8.1, is upon us. Many businesses are again faced with the seemingly perpetual, yet important, decision of whether to upgrade. We propose some simple questions and recommendations to help facilitate this process:

1. Will Windows 8.1's new features enhance productivity, or simply frustrate our users?

It's no question that Windows 8 was designed with touch-enabled devices (tablets, mobile phones, etc.) in mind. This makes sense, considering the undeniable shift from the desktop paradigm to mobile technology. That being said, the regular desktop user (a hefty majority of small business employees) will not gain many advantages by upgrading to Windows 8 from Windows 7. In fact, the redesigned user interface will likely add more confusion to the computing experience for desktop users (especially those of lower-than-average tech savvy). This concern has been partially addressed by Microsoft with the release of Windows 8.1 as an improvement to Windows 8 (see a list of top 10 Windows 8.1 improvements here). However, if your organization is highly mobile, relies heavily on mobile devices, or is noticing a higher demand for mobility from end users, a Windows 8.1 solution should be considered.

2. Is Windows 8.1 compatible with all of our current business-critical applications?

Many third-party vendors need time to thoroughly test their applications for compatibility with a new OS release. Sometimes, updates or patches are required in order to make software compatible. A business should be fully aware of the current versions of business-critical applications being run and what the costs will be if upgrades are needed to maintain compatibility.

3. Are we at risk for not upgrading to Windows 8.1?

Sometimes, an upgrade to a new OS is needed to ensure continued support and maintenance of a business's PC environment. If your organization is on Windows 7 across the board, you are not at risk if you choose not to upgrade to Windows 8.1 just yet. However, if you still have Windows XP machines in your environment, please see our previous blog post!

Major PC manufacturers will continue to make new computers available with Windows 7 for as long as they are able, which is typically quite awhile after the release of the latest OS. Businesses can rest assured that Windows 7 will be supported well until it's time for their next PC hardware upgrade.

written by: Jake Molko - 10/29/2013