Microsoft is scheduled to launch Windows 10 on July 29. The news is being celebrated by PC users who are hoping that the operating system will eradicate many of the frustrating issues with Windows 8 that have led to sharp criticism of Microsoft. For advisors, a handful of new features may result in Windows 10 being a significant improvement, although firms that have grown comfortable with Windows 8 may not feel compelled to make the switch.
A brief look at the background behind the launch—and shortcomings—of Windows 8 helps illustrate why some users are anxious to switch to Windows 10. Windows 8 was an attempt to upgrade Microsoft’s operating system so that it could be used with touch screen technology and portable devices, such as tablets and smartphones.
To that end, Microsoft did away with the popular “start” button that is used to conveniently launch software applications and view a list of recently opened files. Windows 8 instead uses a screen with software programs being represented by tiles that are selected by touching the computer screen. Many users have found the layout confusing and have been frustrated with having to complete additional keystrokes to get to the Windows desktop screen.
According to computer publication CNET, criticism over Windows 8 caused Microsoft to make substantial changes. Those changes, according to The Financial Times, were “one of the most prominent admissions of failure for a new mass-market consumer product since Coca-Cola’s New Coke fiasco nearly 30 years ago.” TechRadar.com was also critical of Windows 8, saying the system “user interface didn't make any logical sense and was hard to learn.”
Not surprisingly, Windows 10 will have a start button, which should make the operating system popular among users who have longed for older versions of Windows. In addition, Windows 10 will debut Microsoft Edge, which is a new web browser formerly called “Project Spartan.”
Perhaps the most innovative aspect of the browser is that it will let users take notes, doodle, and highlight text on webpages and then share the marked up webpages with other users. As a response to Apple’s voice-activated personal assistant called Siri, Microsoft Edge will feature Cortana to help simplify web searches and assist with other tasks.
Microsoft also says Windows 10 has been enhanced to allow for smooth transitions from laptop and tablet mode. The operating system can also be used on a wide range of tablets and smartphones.
Advisors who choose to upgrade to Windows 10 may benefit from the system being more intuitive than Windows 8 and from having a start button similar to Windows 7. Yet, firms should assess if they should wait for the system to develop a track record.
With any new software launch, glitches are likely to occur that need time to be worked out. By waiting, firms may avoid having to be inconvenienced by new product glitches and the need to use update service patches that seek to correct those issues.
Even if Microsoft is successful in making Windows 10 highly intuitive, new users will need to learn how to use the system. That's why advisors should evaluate if the system’s advantages justify the time and energy needed to become proficient at using it.
Firms, of course, don’t have to take an all or nothing approach when assessing if they should move to Windows 10. One approach, for example, could be to implement the program with a limited number of employees who can assess the system’s strengths and use their practical experience with the program to help analyze if it should be used companywide.
One likely place to start is with technology employees, especially those who provide desktop support. By using a test group, firms can better determine if upgrading to Windows 10 is a worthwhile endeavor.