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Still running Windows XP or Vista? C’mon, man…

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Everyone knows Vista was brutal. The relatively small install base is testament to the fact that (next to Windows ME) Vista may well have been the most hated operating system Microsoft ever released. And Windows XP is over 9 years old and counting. Microsoft has long since announced that there will be no more fixes or service packs for either Vista or XP. You will still get security patches but other than that, Microsoft can’t distance itself from the lemon (Vista) and the old dog (XP) fast enough.

Given that Windows 7 has been in production for about a year and a half and just recently had its first official service pack released – which is usually the green light for businesses to begin adoption in earnest – there really isn’t any reason to hold off anymore with the exception to the rare instance where a specialized application isn’t compatible. If this the case, it is past due time to get all over your vendor to upgrade. So… what’s the business case to upgrade to Windows 7? You mean besides the fact that it is the fastest, most robust, most secure, most “business ready” and user friendly desktop operating system ever released? OK – I guess I could end this blog right here but since I still have some white space to fill, here’s my Top 10:

Number 10 – Overall Performance

The performance upgrades are a little bit subtle. In some cases (such as application loading) it is actually negligibly slower than its predecessors but where it shines is in accomplishing complex tasks such as database manipulation. It also requires a lot less horsepower and is the first desktop operating system designed for 64bit operation (XP was available in 64bit but was not really designed with 64bit app compatibility in mind and few desktops had 64bit processors). What good is 64bit? It allows you to transcend the 4GB RAM barrier and more RAM equals better performance. As a matter of fact, with many older apps the incompatibility of Windows 7 is limited to 64bit operation. A quick phone call to your app vendor will tell you if it will run on 64bit or even at all under Windows 7. Make that call.

Number 9 – Hardware Compatibility

Unlike Vista, which had very poor buy-in from the hardware vendors, Windows 7 has by far the widest selection of hardware drivers available (a driver is a tiny piece of software that tells Windows how to deal with a specific piece of hardware). And it’s ability to go out to the web and find the latest updates to your hardware is very impressive; it just works. In fact you could argue that considering how well it works, you could include this under Overall Performance because anything that gets you up and running faster contributes to increased production which really is increased performance.

Number 8 – Simpler Navigation

Many improvements can be found over XP and Vista. Things like Aero Peek where you can hover your mouse over the app in the Taskbar to get a quick view of the content in that window or Aero Shake where you can grab the title bar of any window and physically shake it with the mouse to minimize all other windows. And my personal fave, Aero Snap which allows you to automatically resize windows to take exactly half the screen when you move them to the side of the display.

Number 7 – Taskbar

Speaking of simpler navigation, the new Window7 taskbar is another one of the most significant upgrades to the storied lineup. You can now reorder applications and pin apps to the taskbar (different than Quick Launch which has been abandoned).

Number 6 – Jump Lists

Jump Lists are great time savers. Right-click on the taskbar icon to get a series of commonly used options such as recent files or common commands within an app. OK – much of the Jump List capabilities are built by the app vendor but it is still a new feature within Windows 7 that cannot be duplicated in XP or Vista.

Number 5 – Enhanced Security

Security – the bane of any network professional charged with gatekeeping. There isn’t a soul alive who didn’t hate the Vista User Account Control. An unending number of(“Are you sure you want to run this ” questions had users scrambling for the “Do Not Use UAC” checkbox. With Windows 7, you can tune out most or all of the noise. And speaking of security, Windows 7 is without a doubt the most secure operating system Microsoft ever released. One last note on security: last year (2010) the world’s most insecure software vendor as described by leading Danish security vendor Secunia was (drum roll please)… Apple. That’s right, Apple.

Number 4 – Less Bloatware

You know, all the crap you never use because Microsoft’s entry level applications such as Outlook Express, Photo Gallery and Movie Maker are kinda weak and much better free (or relatively inexpensive) apps are pretty easy to find. But if you like those apps (and many do so no offense intended) you can get them as add-ons through Windows Live Essentials. The point is, Microsoft is finally realizing that giving you less is often giving you more.

Number 3 – Media Streaming

Ever tried to setup streaming between computers or to your media devices in XP? Not gonna happen. And with Vista? Highly unlikely. And although Windows 7 isnt perfect in this category, the enhancements made in this latest operating system makes it worth a closer look. With multimedia becoming more and more prevalent for business applications, media streaming capabilities are going to become very important across the enterprise.

Number 2 – Improved Search

Find things faster and in more places. Simply start typing in the Start menu and instantly see a list of docs, music, email and applications. Results are grouped by category and contain the highlighted search terms. And since everyone keeps data all over the place (me too and I should know better), Windows 7 can search external drives, network drives and libraries.

Number 1 – BitLocker

This can easily be part of the Enhanced Security category but BitLocker is so cool it deserves to be broken out. BitLocker encrypts all the data on your hard drive (hard drives if you have Enterprise or Ultimate versions of Windows 7) and those easily misplaced USB keys with BitLocker To Go. Used to be that a thief didn’t need your password, all they had to do was remove the harddrive and slave it to another PC to copy all your sensitive data. No can do with BitLocker, your data is safe from prying eyes. Bad enough to get ripped off but at least now your data is secure and you can rest easy that the effort required by the bad guys to get at it will not be worth it.

So there you go – my Windows 7 Top 10 list to go with everyone else’s. With Service Pack 1 now available there are precious few reasons not to upgrade. We can help you with the job as we have performed hundreds of upgrades and replacements since Windows 7 just hit the airwaves and can tell you with 100% certainty that we have far fewer service calls related to Windows 7 issues than we ever had with XP and Vista.

With that being said, I would like to amend my Number 1 reason to upgrade to Windows 7 – Lower Overall Support Costs and that should be reason enough right there. Want to learn more? Call us to find out how we can roll Windows 7 out for your business and start taking advantage of the improvements now.