What Does Windows 10 Mean to a Small or Medium Business?

Microsoft Windows 10 became available as a free upgrade (for devices with Windows 7 or 8.1) on July 29th and will remain free for a whole year. Any small business considering taking taking advantage of the free upgrade must take into account other costs beyond the upgrade license, and decide whether to upgrade now, whether to upgrade at some time before the free year is up, or wherever to wait out the free year and deal with the upgrade only when it is absolutely necessary, for example, when the version of Windows being used reaches the end of its supported life.

But how to make that decision?

As a small business owner myself, and a provider of technology services to small businesses, I thought of several relevant questions and then did some playing around on a number of devices to find out the answers.

How different is the user interface for general use, ie finding applications, launching them, switching between them?

First off, moving from Windows 7 to Windows 10 is less of a change than moving to Windows 8, and to a lesser extent, Windows 8.1. The start menu that we've been using for many years is still there, although it looks a little different, and the task bar is pretty familiar now, so finding and launching applications is pretty straightforward to anyone that's familiar with earlier versions of Windows . Moving between them has not changed either.

The painful switch between the standard desktop interface and the more tablet-oriented "Modern UI" that was introduced in Windows 8 and partly fixed in Windows 8.1 is no longer evident, as the Modern UI apps can now run inside the desktop view in a resizable window, just like more familiar desktop applications. They look slightly different, but they act the same, so your users probably will not even notice the difference. The Modern UI apps do need to be downloaded and installed through the Microsoft Store, though, while desktop applications are installed in the usual way, so your users will need to be shown how to launch and use the store, which is very straightforward.

In short, a quick ten minutes of showing your staff around the new interface should do it. Moving to Windows 8 / 8.1 would have been much more painful, which is probably why most businesses, small or otherwise, opted not to make the move.

How different is the user interface for an administrator, ie how easily can they make changes to settings, download and install updates, troubleshoot?

It would not be a Microsoft upgrade if all the administrative buttons had not moved around a bit, so your administrators would require a little more time getting up to speed on where all the important settings have been moved to, but they're probably used to this by now.

If you left click on the Start button and select Settings, you can make some simple changes and run Windows Update. A right click on the Start button will bring up pretty much everything else you need to do as an administrator.

What are the minimum and recommended specifications for the device and how well does Windows 10 run on an entry level device?

Minimum Specs are: a 1 GHz or faster processor, 1 GB RAM for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit, 16 GB hard drive space for 32-bit and 20 GB for 64-bit, a DirectX 9 or later Graphics card with a WDDM 1.0 driver, and a minimum of 800×600 resolution display. Remember these are minimum specs, though, and I would recommend higher.

You can run the "Check My PC" option before upgrading, to see if your device is capable of running Windows 10.

I run the 64-bit version of Windows 10 Pro on a super cheap, but new, laptop containing a 1.7 GHz Intel i3 processor, with 4 GB RAM, and it runs just fine, although it boots up slightly slower than Windows 8.1 did.

I would heartily recommend 4 GB of RAM. Also, an SSD drive, which my laptop does not have but my desktop does, really helps with boot times.

How easy is the upgrade process to implement?

It's very straightforward. It can either be run from within Windows Update or from downloadable media. The install is 3 GB in size, though, so will take a while to download. Note that part of it may already have been downloaded in preparation for the upgrade, so you might not need to download all 3 GB when you run the upgrade through Windows Update. The upgrade can take an hour or so to finish. I ran it on a desktop, a laptop, a Surface Pro tablet and a virtual machine running in Hyper-V and had no problems with any of them.

A Microsoft account is expected to be able log in to Windows 10 (without the device is a member of a Microsoft Active Directory domain) but this can be side-stepped and a local account used instead. I would recommend getting a Microsoft login account, though, as being able to use a single Microsoft account across multiple devices and get the same user experience on each is helpful if you move across devices a lot, which I do.

How well can the operating system be used without a touch enabled screen?

Either my laptop nor desktop has touch enabled screens and I have not yet found a situation where not having touch slowed me down at all. I would argue that touch is kind of a niche use for businesses, it is more for personal use, but that's just my opinion.

I've tested touch on my Microsoft Surface tablet and found it to be perfectly useable when the tablet is not attached to a keyboard or mouse, but I still very much prefer a physical keyboard and mouse for creating content.

Are any features going away?

Windows Media Center is no more, I'm afraid. I'm not sure that matters to a business owner, but I'm going to miss it personally. My home media system in our family room is going to have to stay on Windows 7 until it dies, poor thing.

If you want to play DVDs, and do not have separate software to do so, you'll need the Windows DVD Player app which should be free to anyone with Media Center who upgrades to Windows 10, or can be purchased through the Store for those without.

I doubt that either of these changes will affect a business all that much.

Are there any new features worth a mention?

Edge, the new web browser that will replace the venerable Internet Explorer, is easy to use and responds quickly. I would compare it favorably to Google Chrome which Edge in many ways emulates. Internet Explorer is still present but you have to search for it, and I doubt that is accidental. Expect a future upgrade to remove Internet Explorer entirely.

Cortana, an intelligent personal assistant (think Apple's Siri), is built into Windows 10 and becomes the first place to search for applications, documents and the web, using either a keyboard or voice recognition. But it is much more than that. Ask it the weather and it'll tell you, ask it to set a reminder and it will do so, alerting you at the correct time. It takes a little getting used to, and as I write is actually acting a bit flakey, but overall I like it and can see myself using it more and more.

My kids love yelling "OK Google" on their iPad and then asking it the craziest things. I'm sure they'll love this too. If I let them near my laptop, of course.

So should I upgrade or not?

A move to Windows 10 should not be too disruptive for a small business, and less so than a move to Windows 8 / 8.1, so if you feel the need to move off of Windows 7 (which reached the end of mainstream support in January of this year, and will reach the end of extended support in January of 2020), Windows 10 should be your next OS of choice.

If you are already on Windows 8 / 8.1, I would definitely make the move to Windows 10, as many of the minor irritants inherent to that OS are fixed in Windows 10.

Source by Bob A Samuels

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