Are You Ready for Windows 7?

Although Windows 7 has been out for a while it should now be on your business radar. However, unlike previous versions of Windows, hidden behind the marketing campaigns convincing us it is an easy upgrade, lurks some serious considerations and preparation for any sensible business planning to move to Windows 7.
Having already assisted some organisations with a move to Windows 7 White Consultancy has identified the following issues that must be considered prior to an upgrade:

·            64bit or 32bit edition of Windows 7
·            Application compatibility
·            Hardware compatibility
·            Network Printing

Let us look at these in a little more detail;

64bit or 32bit – There are two core flavours of Windows 7, 32bit and 64bit. Both appear the same to the user but under the bonnet they operate differently, in particular how the applications run, hardware is recognised and used. The reason that Microsoft has introduced this new 64bit flavour is because in coding terms 32bit operating systems (e.g. Windows XP) have hit the ceiling, this means they can no longer support the new computer chips, memory and other hardware we use nowadays. 64bit operating systems can function with new and emerging hardware and will continue for many, many years to come. Therefore we highly recommend the 64bit edition of Windows 7, to ensure you future proof your computer system. Note: The next edition of Windows “Windows 8” will only be 64bit.

Applications compatibility - As Windows 7 has undergone some fundamental changes, it is likely that you will have some applications that do not work after it is installed. It is our advice that in advance of moving to Windows 7 you test to see if all you applications work, this can be done on a spare computer if you have one.

How do I test my applications?
·         Install a trial edition of Windows 7 which can be downloaded from here.
·         Install the application
·         Open a sample of applications and run some frequently performed tasks
·         Note an issues where they do not work properly
If you do identify any issues with your applications, contact the applications manufacturer and follow their guidance to get them resolved if possible.

If however, the manufacturer does not provide a suitable solution (many will want to charge for advice or a new edition of their application) or the cost of a replacement application is too expensive, there are other ways to make the old application work within Windows 7. One solution is a free Microsoft tool called XPM (‘XP’ Mode), which can be downloaded here including instructions (be warned it’s not for the faint hearted). It works by using a hidden version of Windows XP to load the application separate from the rest of your applications and files. However, this option does come with some disadvantages such as this hidden edition of Windows XP will be running in the background and its activity will not be monitored by your antivirus software.

Note: Don’t forget to test your antivirus software as this counts as an ‘application’.

Hardware Compatibility – As discussed previously, unless your hardware such as printers and computers, was produced in the last year or so, it may not be compatible Windows 7. This could result in you being able to install Windows 7 on your PC or stop your peripherals from being recognised.  Microsoft have provided a very handy tool that can be run on any computer to check to see if it is compatible before trying to install windows 7. The tool can be downloaded from here and Microsoft also has a website here that allows you to browse through a list of supported hardware, including externally connected peripherals

Printing – If your printer is not directly connected to your computer and you connect to it over the network you will need to plan for your printer ‘queues’ to be updated. Currently, there is a bit of software called a ‘printer driver’ that is used by your version of Windows to support printing. However, if you upgrade to Windows 7 the printer queue on the server will only support Windows 7 printer drivers. There are two versions of each Windows 7 printer driver, 32bit and a 64bit, so ensure that you have both added to the printer queue.
If you directly connect your printer to your computer, before you upgrade to Windows 7 you should check that the manufacturer has created Windows 7 printer drivers in both 32bit & 64bit and any printer software is available e.g. scanner-fax-printer all in one applications. Printer driver downloads are commonly found under the ‘support’ section on manufacturer websites or alternatively, you can check the Microsoft Windows 7 Compatibility website to see if your printer is supported.