How new operating systems like Windows 7 can improve efficiency and productivity Featured

9:01pm EDT April 30, 2011
How new operating systems like Windows 7 can improve efficiency and productivity

The migration from Windows XP to Windows 7 is certainly inevitable. As updated applications are developed for the newer operating systems like Windows 7, XP users will have to upgrade to use these new applications. Office 2010, for instance, is one of the most commonly used applications that will soon no longer be supported on XP.

If the migration is inevitable, then why not switch now and be ahead of the curve? As appealing as this idea sounds, the complicated and often painful process of migrating to a new system is never easy to implement. For your company to be willing and capable to begin the shift, there must be an immediate purpose and a practical payoff for it.

Smart Business spoke to Zack Schuler at Cal Net Technology Group about how and why businesses should get started on the transition.

Why should companies consider upgrading now?

  • More than 60 percent of all companies are currently piloting Windows 7 in their organization.
  • 11 percent of all Microsoft customers have completely upgraded to Windows 7, with another 50 percent of consumers to follow in the next six to 12 months.
  • An additional 27 percent of Microsoft customers state that they plan to start upgrading in the next year or two.
  • Windows 7 64 bit makes up more than 20 percent of all editions sold today.

Windows XP was released in 2001. In software terms, a decade is an incredibly long time. Microsoft, or any software company for that matter, will only support its software for so many years. The time has come for XP to finally be laid to rest and transition out of support to allow newer products like Windows 7 to experience widespread use.

What are the advantages of upgrading to Windows 7?

Windows 7 supports a multitude of new hardware packages, particularly the new 64-bit processors. Put simply, a 64-bit PC can handle larger amounts of information than a 32-bit system. Since it can use more RAM — 4 GB and up — a 64-bit computer can be more responsive when you’re running lots of programs at once. It helps to not only enhance efficiency, but will help eliminate issues with computers getting bogged down or crashing.

Every year, Windows XP is forced to handle increasingly larger and CPU-draining programs that are intended for more advanced systems. This means that XP will only get slower and slower in the future as everything else gets bigger. If you want to stay productive, efficient and in the game, it’s time to upgrade to the 64-bit processor and put Windows 7 to work for you.

What other features benefit businesses?

Windows 7 also brings far greater stability and security than previous Windows platforms. Systems as a whole run more reliably, and the huge drop in downtime will bring a significant return on investment very quickly. It has numerous under-the-hood tune-ups that boost every computer’s overall speed and performance by using less memory when it’s idle and less graphics memory when you launch and switch between windows. It also runs background services like Bluetooth only when you need them. If and when memory does run low, Windows 7 can easily utilize most USB flash drives for instant storage space.

Windows 7 is also more energy-efficient that other versions of Windows. Administrators can monitor energy consumption and adjust power settings across their organization, reducing the amount of wasted energy.

While there are costs involved for new desktop hardware, software and migration planning, as well as technical labor and user training, Cal Net is uniquely positioned to help organizations make their transition from XP to Windows 7. Recently, Cal Net earned its Gold Competency in System Management, having helped thousands of people transition to a new version of Windows over the last 15 years, including many successful Windows 7 projects.

What would you tell someone who doesn’t find the transition necessary?

If you’re still not completely convinced, take a look at some of our favorite productivity-enhancing features that are only available on Windows 7:

The search box: The latest search box for Windows 7 is incredibly responsive and lightning fast. Just typing in a word offers instant results from anywhere on your computer, much like Google’s new Instant technology. The search box can even tap into programs like Windows Live Mail and find misplaced e-mails in folders. It’s also an easier way to get at things like theme settings, printers and system information.

Pinning items: Being able to ‘pin’ items isn’t really new to Windows 7. You’ve always been able to permanently stick items on your start menu, but it’s now been expanded to the taskbar. Now they’ll never be buried under the program windows you have open, which is a huge time-saver when you have multiple tasks going on at once.

Backup: With Windows 7’s built-in backup tool, you can plug in a USB hard drive or flash drive and it will ask you if you want to use it as a back-up device. Create a job to back up your files to the drive, start the initial run, and every time you plug that drive in from now on you’ll have the option to re-run your job. It’s a painless way to keep important files safe.

System image: Power users know all about creating images and know why it’s a good idea. Creating a system image is a bit like taking a snapshot of your entire system — windows, your programs, your pictures, documents and music — and preserving it in case something disastrous happens. Even if your hard drive crashes you can restore your system image to a brand new drive and pick up right where you left off.

Zack Schuler is the founder & CEO of Cal Net Technology Group. Reach him at ZSchuler@CalNetTech.com.