In October 2012 Microsoft released their latest version of their operating system – Windows 8. The dilemma that arises for the Dental Practice is about whether it’s appropriate to start using it. Early adopters are generally all fired up to try it out, and the conservatives amongst us aren’t interested at all. What factors are there to consider in the decision?
- You likely have a mix of either Windows XP or Windows 7 systems in your office now. Remember Windows Vista (or Windows Me)? It came and went and most people went out of their way to avoid it. It wasn’t well received in the business market due to compatibility issues with older equipment and the significant changes in the user interface that impacts the staff learning curve. Windows 8 appears to have some of the same challenges.
- Will your Orthodontic specialty applications (Practice Management, X-Ray, Patient Education, Credit Processing, etc.) all work properly on Windows 8? There is usually a significant lag in application compatibility, sometime several years. Some still don’t support Windows 7. You should not change to a newer operating system unless you are POSITIVE your applications will work. If you are interested in upgrading, put in the leg work to determine if your apps are compatible before you buy.
- Windows 8 features a completely revised user interface called Metro. Think of your computer monitor as a large cell phone screen that no longer has a ‘Desktop’ and is rather a series of ‘Tiles’. Some may love it, but personally I don’t like the interface (so far) since I am well trained in the old ways. I find it slows me down. You can decide for yourself.
- The newer operating systems generally need a faster computer underneath them to run well. If you run Windows XP or Windows 7 now on an existing PC, I would suggest they are best left as-is and skip the upgrade until it’s time to replace the entire PC.
- Having a mixture of Windows versions in the office adds a burden to your staff having to know how to work with all of them. I am a big fan of having all the PCs the same whether it is all XP or all 7.
Windows 8 – would I wait? Yes.
If I was buying ALL new PCs for my office and I had checked and ALL the applications I planned on running were fully Windows 8 compatible, I might take the plunge.
Otherwise I would stick with Windows 7 for maximum compatibility and staff happiness. I suspect we’ll be skipping Windows 8 like we did with Vista.
If you’d prefer not to use Windows 8 on a new PC, how can you still get Windows 7? This is a tricky question. We are in the overlap time now between the two. If you walk into your local retailer like BestBuy or Staples, they will likely have mostly PCs preloaded with Windows 8 (Microsoft encourages this). You may be able to find a few models with Windows 7. To get more exactly what you want I suggest you look at purchasing your system directly from the Manufacturers websites like Dell.com or HP.com. Looking at systems offered in the “Business” sections of their websites, you will find that they offer both Windows 7 and 8 as options. Large corporate customers will be demanding Window 7 be available for several years to come.
You might also be interested in Which Version of Windows is Right for You and its companion piece on deciding between 32-bt and 64-bit versions of Windows.
Update: A few things have happened now since this article was originally posted:
- Microsoft released Windows 8.1. This was a few upgrade if you already owned Windows 8. In the 8.1 release they did a pretty decent job of fixing some of the major irritations of the Metro User Interface.
- I have been using 8 and now 8.1 since they became available. I have softened on my position some, its not too bad. I stick to my conclusions: No need to change if you are on something else, but would be worth a shot if you are setting up a new network and all your software was compatible.
Update 2: Just when we get comfortable with Windows 8, along comes Windows 10. Check out what we think so far here.
Since your existing IT person didn’t share this with you, perhaps you would consider working with the people that did. If you need a little help with your Practice, this is what MME Consulting does. Just give us a call at 866-419-1102 or check us out online at www.mmeconsulting.com.
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Have you taken the Plunge to Windows 8 already and have an opinion to share? Please leave a comment with your experience.