Be wary of the upgrade productivity problem
Microsoft’s in trouble. But this time, it’s not Apple or Google directing the shots – it’s the good old Aussie consumer.
Seems the local competition regulator is a bit ticked that boxed copies of Windows 8 are misleading customers. The problem is that Microsoft is only selling the upgrade version of Windows 8 Pro in stores, which means you need to have an existing copy of Windows installed first.
The confusion is understandable – you’d assume you could just buy Windows 8 from a retail store and then install as-is. A small mistake, but nevertheless a pain it doesn’t need right now, despite a modest 40 million sales.
After all, businesses are already pretty confused about Windows 8. They’re not sure what to do with it, or even whether to upgrade or not. Yet the release of the operating system underlines something extremely important: just how closely business owners need to be aligned with their company’s IT needs.
The fact is, choosing to upgrade your office operating systems could be a massive blow to productivity, perhaps even in the long term.
Consider this. If you’re using Windows 7, you know what to expect every day when you get to work and turn your computer on. You know where all your files are, you know the quickest way to get to the programs you want. Years of using the same system has everything down to a fine-tuned series of precision movements.
That might mean having Skype upload straight when you boot up the computer, or having a back-up schedule set for every day at 2pm. Or whatever you use.
Now, imagine you get to work one day and see that your computer system has changed. Maybe you’ve been upgraded to the latest version, or maybe you’ve been switched to a Mac or vice versa. You won’t have any idea what you’re doing.
It seems like a trivial complaint, but the amount of time it takes to get up to speed with those changes really drags on your productivity. In fact, a recent study found that one of the biggest drags on workplace productivity is waiting for technology to catch up with what you’re doing.
Now imagine those productivity problems multiplied across an entire workplace. You may not realise it, but Windows 8 has a significant effect on workplace productivity. The design is completely changed, with the Metro-style opening screen now the default boot-up menu. The desktop is still there, but it’s accessible through an app tile just like everything else. There are new shortcuts, new apps, new everything.
You might dismiss this as something that won’t take long to get used to, but don’t be so quick to assume. While your staff may be full of computer-savvy users, not everyone is as up to speed as you are.
If you’re thinking about upgrading to Windows 8, that’s a fair enough choice. But you need to keep in mind how the differences between the last version of Windows and the newest release will impact your productivity. The worst thing you could do is underestimate it.
In big decisions like this, be in constant contact with your IT manager. Choose carefully how you go about integrating your upgrades – an office-wide change isn’t something you can go back on easily.
You can follow Patrick Stafford on Twitter @pdstafford.