Microsoft’s Windows 10 arrives on July 29 and the good news is that it will be a free update for most computers. If you’re running Windows 8.1 or Windows 7 Home Basic/Premium you can upgrade to Windows 10 Home. Meanwhile computers running Windows 8.1 Pro or Windows 7 Professional/Ultimate can make the move to Windows 10 Pro.
Unfortunately there’s no free upgrade for Windows Vista machines, but we might see the option of a paid upgrade. There certainly won’t be a free or paid upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 10 – if you’re still running XP then it’s time to move on. Microsoft stopped issuing security patches for Windows XP last year, so you’re not protected against new threats. Security patches for Windows Vista will keep coming until 2017.
Microsoft is obviously keen for people to make the move to Windows 10 sooner rather than later. The free upgrade offer is only available for 12 months and, to further sweeten the deal, computers which get onboard in the first year will receive free Windows 10 updates for the life of the device. It’s certainly a generous offer, but that doesn’t mean your business should be first in line to upgrade every computer on July 29.
When you’re running a small business, the most important thing you need from your computers is stability. It’s more important that they’re reliably doing their jobs than it is to have them running the latest and greatest version of Windows. Unless your line of work demands that you immediately make the move to Windows 10, sit back and let others forge the way.
You might even decide it’s best to wait until your next hardware refresh, when you can buy new computers with Windows 10 preinstalled.
Alternatively you might be keen to make the most of Windows 10. That’s fine, but it’s still worth sitting back to let others find the early bugs. Microsoft has gone through an extensive testing phase but all software upgrades have their teething problems.
Before you take the plunge you’ll also need to check whether all your business software plays nicely with Windows 10. Most businesses rely on an Office suite and accounting package, but you might also depend on Point of Sale software, Customer Relationship Management, remote desktop tools, cloud backup software or audio and video editing suites. If you can’t live without it, you need to be sure it can run smoothly on Windows 10.
Also think about hardware – you might need new software and drivers for printers, scanners, USB dongles, Point of Sale hardware and other devices that you rely on to run your business.
Check vendor websites, they might issue updates to bring their software and drivers into line with Windows 10. It’s also worth a Google search to see if other businesses are having problems. If so, best to sit tight until they iron out the bugs.
When you’re satisfied that the time is right to move to Windows 10, start by upgrading one computer (backup all your important files first). Take your time breaking in Windows 10 on this one computer before you turn your attention to the others.
You’ve got 12 months to take advantage of Microsoft’s free upgrade offer, there’s no need to rush. You’ve got a business to run, so let the early adopters pave the way when it comes to Windows 10.
David Hancock is the founder and managing director of Geeks2U, a national on-site computer repair and support company.