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Should Advisors Pass on Windows 8?

Advisors often wait for a major upgrade to the Windows operating system upgrade to replace their computers and expand their technology capabilities. But while many advisors are understandably curious about upgrading to Windows 8, should you take the plunge?

Microsoft has positioned Windows 8 as a radical revamp of its operating system. It offers touch screen navigation and other features to make it appealing to both tablet and desktop computer users, including those with older model machines.

Indeed, the new system is being included in convertible laptops, which come with swivel screens to allow them to also function as tablets. For Microsoft, the goal is to slow down, or reverse, Windows’ significant loss of market share to highly popular portable devices by Apple and Google. In the process, the operating systems may help stoke sagging sales of desktop computers and laptops.

Many new Windows 8 convertible machines have price tags that exceed $1,000. For example, the Dell XPS Ultrabook series, which comes equipped with the Microsoft Office suite, starts at $1,199. For that price, the system features an Intel Core i5 processor, 4 GB of memory and 128 GB of solid state drive. The XPS 12 Ultrabook, however, sells for $1,699. It features a more robust Intel Core i7 processor, 8 GB of memory and a 256 GB of solid state drive

Owners of older systems, such as those equipped with Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7, can upgrade their technology to Windows 8 for only $40.

Like any major software upgrade, the long-anticipated launch of Microsoft Windows 8 offers advisors the potential to boost their productivity by embracing the latest technology. Yet, Windows 8 is expected to a lukewarm reception, if not worse, from financial advisors.

The radical change to Windows has created a substantially different user-experience that may alienate many advisors. The changes are noticeable from the very start. Rather than continuing with the drop-down style menu, the software’s start page has a tile environment that is similar to Microsoft’s phone software.

The change may be disorienting. In addition, the system is available in an RT version for tablets and a standard system for traditional Intel-based computers. The variations among the two versions may also prove to challenging.

Adding to the confusion, the Intel-based machines will be able to run new tablet applications as well as older Windows programs. The RT machines, however, won’t be compatible with older Windows programs. Advisors also need to check if data and applications that they have on “the cloud” or housed remotely, are compatible with Windows 8’s new Internet Explorer, or Explorer 10.

Many advisors seeking to upgrade their technology during the next six months may simply ask themselves why they should buy into a new system that will require an extensive learning curve if their existing systems is already adequate.

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