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Are you confused about when to upgrade your version of Windows? Are you wondering what you're missing in your Microsoft Office suite or if you'd be better protected with newer software?

Today's tech tip will help you decide and give you strategies and reasoning that successful organizations with well-run Information Technology (IT) departments use.

First ask yourself the key question.

Do I collaborate on work documents, spread sheets, or other work products with people outside my organization?

  1. NO, then there is no concern. Everyone within an organization should operate on the same software version, such as Microsoft Word or Intuit's QuickBooks. Intuit offers a license for older QuickBooks' versions to ensure consistency/continuity on all computers.
  2. If the answer is YES, consider if others need to read, review, or comment on the work. A PDF file may be the best choice, allowing everyone to see without making changes. There are many PDF creation programs, ranging from $649 for Adobe Acrobat (the original) to as low as $40 for Print2PDF.
  3. If colleagues need to modify your work, you need to standardize on a software suite, but not necessarily on the same version. If you use a version of Microsoft Office prior to 2007, and your colleague uses 2007, the Office Compatibility Pack is ideal to see all files in the newest formats with your Office 2003 or XP - and no need to upgrade. Other software vendors have similar solutions.

Let's consider what many professional organizations, such as 3M, Red Box, and General Motors do when it comes to software upgrades.

You probably agree that running down to the pharmacy for a new "miracle cure-all" pill is not a good idea. You'd say, "Let somebody else be the guinea pig, I'll wait until it's proven." So, why would you do that to your business computer systems? Why would you use unproven software? Yes, somebody has to be first - but not you!

When IT professionals look at a new version of Windows or other software we cringe. We see people wanting to change for the sake of change. We quote statistics like 80% of users use 20% of the available features and that 20% use 80% of that same feature set.

  • Let's take a look back at the time of Microsoft Windows XP's release:
  • January 1, 2002 Windows XP released to public.
  • September 2002 Service Pack 1 released to public.
  • February 2003 Service Pack 1a released to public.
  • Late 2003, Windows XP is now considered mature enough that professional and corporate IT personnel begin testing and consider introducing it into the workplace. That's almost two years after its release!
  • August 2004 Service Pack 2 released to public.
  • IT professionals hesitate to install Service Pack 2 as it's not proven, and stand correct when systems crash due to its updates.
  • October 2006, Internet Explorer 7 released…and havoc rains on many computers as it's installed as an automatic update without asking for user confirmation. Users discover Web sites can't be viewed, printers don't work, and other annoyances are numerous until Internet Explorer 7 is uninstalled and they return to version 6 (tried and proven).
  • September 2007 Service Pack 2c released to System Builders only.
  • First half of 2008 Service Pack 3 due for release.

Well-run IT departments wait!

  • They wait for proof that things not only work, but work well.
  • We turn off automatic updates so we have stability and not ever-changing computer setups.
  • We test configurations and make sure they perform as they're expected to.

Is the launch of Windows Vista, Microsoft Office, or any other computer product ever going to be different?

Well, one hopes, but it's a fact that every possible combination of hardware, software, and configuration options can't be tested - so it can't change. There will always be a need for Service Packs, updates, and hot fixes. The question is do you want to be a tester or a stable user. I know that stable is what's best for my clients when it comes to their computers.

Do you want to be a tester or a stable user?



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