In this day and age, we have a few choices when it comes to Operating Systems, some of them have been limited by the manufacturer, we will look at them from the point of view of the small business owner, and from various needs.
The Microsoft Offerings
Microsoft is still the 800-pound gorilla in the world of small businesses, and many people are asking themselves the “Windows 10 pro vs home” question. Windows 10 is the latest from Microsoft and is touted as what you need from small to large. But if you’re a one-man shop company, you may find that even Windows 10 home is too restrictive.
Many companies, small and large are still running Windows 7 and haven’t taken the plunge to Windows 10 yet. Windows 7 has been the mainstream go-to for both large and small businesses for many years. But on January 14, 2020, Microsoft will no longer support the operating system for free. Beyond that, paid support will only be available for small businesses.
If you’re currently with Windows 7, your reasons to stay with this aging OS are as follows:
1.You have proprietary software that as of yet is not Windows 10 compatible
2.You are willing to pay for support from Microsoft for patches/updates
3.You are willing to risk the attacks that are likely to begin after January 14th.
If you don’t fit the above, then you are clearly a candidate for Windows 10. The question is, why haven’t you updated to Windows 10 yet?
Windows 10 upgrade for FREE?
If you are a Windows 7 Professional user, you might have seen in your Windows updates the chance to upgrade to Windows 10 for free. This is a benefit that pops up from time to time. But if you are larger than two or three people, rolling out a new OS means new things. Particularly if your group of employees knows ‘where and when to click, and that’s enough for them.’
This could mean learning new buttons, new features, and it could also mean a slowdown for your business. Which if your business is sensitive to time, like an accountant, then choosing your upgrade path and paying for it may be better than allowing Windows to make that time sensitive decision for you.
Windows 10 home is an option that’s available, but what about your system requirements? Can your computers handle it?
Windows 10 requirements
Whether it’s Pro or Home, the requirements are the same. At least when it comes to the minimum for your operating system. This doesn’t mean that your small business applications will run on the same hardware with Windows 10 as your software package, though.
The recommended requirements and ‘real world’ recommendations differ greatly, but many computer experts say you’ll want:
– At least a Core i3 2+ Processor
– 4 Gigabytes of Ram
– 60 GB HDD space at least. But 100GB in practice is more ideal for your small business needs.
Be sure and check your programs like Quicken, Quickbooks, and any custom programs for your small business that their requirements for a computer with Windows 10 are supported on your current infrastructure, and that you’re not going to have to buy new hardware as well as new software packages.
Windows 10 Home
Windows 10S should be excluded from your list of upgrades right away. It’s aimed at students and teachers, but is essentially worthless, as it doesn’t allow you to download or use non-Microsoft products. As a small business owner, you no doubt have a desire to do more than just use Microsoft products. This even requires you to purchase office instead of using a free version of an office style product like LibreOffice.
So, if you’re planning on upgrading to Windows 10 and your small business has a domain or a network – steer clear. Home does NOT allow you to do this.
Do you like to remote connect to your work computer using remote desktop? Then you’re going to need to use Pro not Home. There are a few additional oddities like assigned access, the maximum supported RAM amount and BitLocker, but if you’re interested in those features you’ve already headed down the Pro path anyhow.
Linux has made great strides. Ubuntu and Linux Mint are user-friendly, have software stores, and operate like big versions of an android phone with some support of the applications you know and use. If you’re interested in trying these pieces of software out, you can try them for free at Ubuntu.com or LinuxMint.com. Both of these allow for easy ‘try it before you install it’ if you have a USB drive with enough space on it.
The advantages to Linux are obviously that it’s free software, but the old saying can ring true – you get what you pay for. So if you use proprietary software, Linux may not be for you. But if you have an extra computer around the office that just needs to access your cloud, email, or use office type programs, then Linux might end up saving you a thin dime or two, particularly when you’re talking about pricing Windows 10 Pro.
The last word
Whatever operating system you choose will help you or hinder you for years to come. So if you choose to double down and stick to your Windows 7 guns, then you need to be prepared to ride out some incompatibility with browsers, a few workarounds, and even paying Microsoft for support on a few odds and ends. All of those things could be big hindrances to your business. But if you’re looking at Windows 10, you need to decide how much you will grow, and how ‘networked’ or connected you want your business to be since Windows 10 Home doesn’t support business style networking.
And, should you adapt to Mac or Linux, there are communities and programs out there who cater to customizing Windows applications for those operating systems.