Prepare an Upgrade Plan for Your Computer Inventory

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2012-08-23 Print this article Print

Once you've got Windows 8 running, you need to take the time to learn it. The Windows desktop looks just like what you're used to since the days of Windows XP, but there are differences – like the absence of a start button. You get access to those functions by hovering your mouse pointer over the lower right corner of your screen.

Now's also the time to meet with your IT staff and get started creating a support plan. You will need to be ready with a list of frequently asked questions to send to your employees when they get a new computer or tablet with Windows 8 or Windows RT. Your support staff will need to become familiar with the new OS and be able to either answer questions intelligently or to recognize that you need to pass that question on to someone in the IT department who knows the answer.

You will also need to look over your inventory and determine which computers are capable of running Windows 8 and which of those machines are worth the time commitment to perform the upgrade. If a laptop or desktop is more than two or three years old, it's probably not worth the cost in labor and training hours to perform an upgrade.

However, at some point you're going to have to refresh your computers as they reach the end of their economically useful life. That means you're going to be bringing Windows 8 into your enterprise. So the support requirement will remain, regardless of whether you choose to upgrade any of your existing computers or not.

Fortunately, the upgrade to Windows 8 is not nearly as painful as some past Windows upgrades have been. Virtually every application written for Windows 7 will run properly on Windows 8. In fact, when you perform an upgrade in place, those applications will be installed automatically as well. While it's possible that some custom applications may need to be updated, chances are they won't.

You will also need to check your inventory and make sure you have any Windows 8-specific drivers that the machines require. Again, you're in luck as most Windows 7 drivers will at least function with Windows 8. And while the new drivers may work better, the old ones will at least work. In addition, Microsoft appears to have included a wide variety of drivers as part of the installation package, so in nearly every instance, the process happens automatically and Windows 8 just runs.

So while it could be worse, the upgrade to Windows 8 does require attention. But the good news is that it's fairly low on drama and less drama is always a good thing for overworked IT staff.

Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazine's Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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