Now that Windows 7 has launched, Microsoft and its supporters are extolling the virtues of the new operating system. They’re calling it the best Windows operating system to date. They believe (rightfully so) that it is head and shoulders above Windows Vista.
But is it better than Windows XP?
That’s a question that can’t be answered so quickly. Thanks to Service Pack 3, XP has been one of the most reliable versions of Windows Microsoft has ever released. And considering Microsoft’s track record of failing to provide the most robust experience until Service Pack 1 is released, it’s not ridiculous to contend that companies should consider sticking with Microsoft’s older operating system for just a little while longer.
For some companies, sticking with XP until Windows 7’s kinks are worked out might be a good option. Here’s why:
1. History matters
As much as Microsoft wants us to forget it, Windows has had a spotty past at launch time. Every operating system Microsoft has released in recent memory has featured several bugs, security holes and other issues that have prompted the company to patch the operating system as quickly as possible. There’s little doubt that the same will be true for Windows 7-it’s part of the process. Waiting until SP1 is offered limits the amount of time companies will need to spend dealing with those issues.
2. Windows XP is free
Another major consideration for companies is the cost of deploying Windows 7. Sure, it’s a new operating system, but it also requires new hardware. In other words, the cost of implementing Windows 7 in the enterprise is quite high. And for many companies, spending that much cash on a new operating system is untenable right now.
3. It’s the economy, friend
Along those lines, the economy is uncertain. Although some economists are saying a recovery is under way, they almost always hedge their bets by saying that it’s fragile, at best. Companies really don’t know what the future holds. It could get worse. Spending so much capital on a new operating system might not be the best idea.
Switching from XP to Windows 7 won’t be a smooth transition for most companies. XP is very different. There’s no Aero interface. The Windows 7 task bar alone might be enough to confuse employees. The last thing a company wants to do is deal with productivity issues after deploying all-new hardware and software across the network.
There’s a real chance that that would happen if companies brought Windows 7 to employees now. It may be better to wait, let employees get Windows 7 computers at home and then prepare the office for the update.
Waiting for SP1 Makes Sense
With Windows 7 just hours old, there’s no way to tell if it really is as secure as Microsoft wants users to believe. So far, Windows 7 hasn’t been tested in the market. Companies really don’t know if their data is safer on Windows 7. There’s something to be said for a “wait-and-see” approach.
6. Support won’t die
One of the main reasons why any company would switch from an operating system is lack of support. Windows XP won’t suffer from that for years to come. According to Microsoft, it will continue to patch XP for another five years. That gives companies more than enough time to sit tight and invest in a new operating system when necessary.
7. Things have improved
Just because Windows 7 features several built-in features like Windows Security Essentials and Internet Explorer 8 doesn’t mean that XP users are left out in the cold. Quite the contrary, Microsoft has made those programs available for download to any XP user. In other words, all those security holes that have plagued XP in the past might be contained with the help of Microsoft’s security solution and its more robust browser.
8. XP works just fine on netbooks
More companies than ever are considering netbooks. But even though Windows 7 Starter Edition is designed specifically for the small, lightweight notebooks, it’s not a vast improvement over XP. In fact, XP works just fine on netbooks. Why switch?
9. Service packs are robust
Again, Microsoft’s first service pack for its previous operating systems tended to provide a far more reliable experience than the launch version of the software. Granted, Windows XP SP1 came under fire for not protecting users as well as it should have (this was fixed in SP2), but it was undeniably an upgrade. And a major one at that. Historically, Microsoft’s service packs have proven successful. Waiting for Windows 7 SP1 might be a good idea.
10. What does it hurt?
In the end, there’s no rush to switch to Windows 7. It may be the latest software, but for most companies, an operating system that works well is better than the unknown. Wait it out. See what other companies think. And make the decision after that. It didn’t hurt when Vista was released, did it?