As the sun sets for Microsoft Windows XP support, some financial institutions are weighing which operating system to move their enterprise to next. For most that means choosing between Windows 7 and Windows 8.
The difference between the two operating systems can be fairly dramatic, explains Jamie Davis, Safe Systems VP of education, product management and quality control, who highlighted a number of challenges and opportunities in upgrading operating systems in a session at the annual NetConnect conference. Here are three of the top challenges banks and credit unions should be aware of in considering a move to Windows 8:
- Interface: The most significant changes in Windows 8 are visual. One of the most immediately apparent changes in Windows 8’s interface is the new Metro interface that serves as an app launcher, information center, and general launching pad for apps and programs. While Metro’s modern design and emphasis on information is useful, for users accustomed to booting to the traditional desktop, the experience can be a somewhat jarring. Outside of the Metro design, there is no Start button on the desktop. And beyond that, there is no option to boot to the desktop instead of Metro. Windows 8.1 will likely correct these two issues, giving the freedom of choice for users who prefer the old desktop and Start button that have been a cornerstone of past editions of Windows. The command bar is gone, as are unified search and the recent documents menu on the Start screen.
- Controls: What’s more, the new OS emphasizes touch-based controls. For those whose workstation’s don’t have touchscreens, maneuvering Windows 8 with a mouse can be a trying experience. For example, apps now close by tapping or clicking on the top of a window and dragging it down. Another change is the separation of the individual user log-in/log-out feature and the power settings. The user signs in and signs out by clicking or tapping on their user ID at the top right of Metro. Turning the machine off takes place by swiping for the ‘Charms’ menu, selecting settings and then powering off. The classic Ctrl-Alt-Del command brings up a slightly different set of options as well. User settings are featured in the center, with the power option represented in the lower right with an icon.
- Upgrades: Windows 7 is still going strong, with support for SP1 planned through 2020. This leaves many institutions with the choice between the more familiar interface of Windows 7, and the new design of Windows 8. Upgrading existing equipment from XP to Windows 8 can be particularly challenging, and might tip some who don’t wish to purchase all-new hardware to Windows 7.