The Hype Around Windows 7: What Does it Really Mean for My Small Business?
I have just returned from the Microsoft World Partner Conference in New Orleans. It’s fair to say there is a lot of excitement brewing around Microsoft’s new desktop operating system, Windows 7 (it’s still in release candidate, you can’t actually buy the final product yet). However, I’m pleased to say it isn’t just Microsoft blowing their own trumpet – much of the excitement stemmed from the Microsoft partners. Most of these guys are the “geeks” that know their stuff, so if they are genuinely excited (and I remember them applauding a demo!) then maybe Windows 7 is the real deal.
So what does this mean for your average, non-geek, change-averse small business owner? Why would I want to move to Windows 7, I hear you ask? Well if you are a business that uses technology as a key driver for success, here are my top reasons you might want to adopt Windows 7 on its release:
- Great performance on existing hardware: Traditionally, a new Microsoft Operating System has always meant a new computer, which resulted in a costly exercise for most small businesses wanting to adopt the latest and greatest. The murmur from the tech-heads at the conference, though, is that Windows 7 will actually perform just as well as if not better than Windows Vista on most current hardware! Windows 7 could give a new lease of life to your existing fleet of computers plus you benefit from all the new features.
- Setup is easier than ever: Installing Windows 7 is simpler than ever. Even joining it to your business network is very easy. So easy that small business owners could probably do it themselves, saving money on IT implementation costs. Or for those who would still rather their IT partner install Windows 7, the service fees should be relatively low, leaving you with more cash in your budget to spend on developing your technology systems to further enhance your business success.
- Organising & finding information is better: Windows 7 introduces the concept of libraries. This is a new, more intuitive way to group documents and folders that will save you and your staff time. For example, I might be working on a project for a client which requires me to have several Powerpoint presentations that I have created and stored locally on my computer, several pricing spreadsheets which are located on a share on my company server, and several proposal documents located on a different share on the server. Ordinarily I would spend lots of time simply navigating around folder structures to find these documents when I needed them. With Windows 7, I can simply add them to a library that I might call “Client Project” so that next time I’m working on the project, I simply open the library and am presented with all the relevant documents, regardless of where they’re located. Cool!
- Secure files and folders: No matter what the IT guys tell us, we all still like to keep both work and personal documents on our local computers. This creates a real security risk for notebook users if their notebook is lost or stolen: sensitive work or personal data might end up in the wrong hands. In Windows 7, you can easily right click a folder or document to encrypt its contents. What many companies spend extra dollars on for third party tools can now be done by a novice within Windows 7.
- Easy projector setup: How unprofessional does it look when someone comes to do a presentation but spends 20 mins trying to get the laptop and projector talking? Windows 7 makes sure this doesn’t happen to your sales staff by having a new projector setup and troubleshooting function. Spend more time presenting, not sweating!
If you consider your small business to be technology strategic then take a look at Windows 7 and how it can enable your staff to do their job better. It really will be a superior platform going forward for integration of new collaboration and productivity tools combined with the trend towards in-the-cloud computing.