Should You Consider Migrating to Windows 7?

While Microsoft's new operating system triumphs over Vista, there hasn't been a great rush to make the switch. Are real estate professionals missing out?

May 1, 2010

When Windows 7, the latest version of Microsoft’s operating system for PCs, launched last year, it was welcomed as a much-needed replacement for Vista. Reviews and word-of-mouth have been generally favorable, giving PC users ample reason to pause and consider the merits of migrating to the new operating system. But the improvements and positive buzz haven’t necessarily translated into a great rush by real estate professionals to embrace the latest greatest version of Windows.

For PC users who stuck with XP, Windows 7 may seem a more logical progression while building on and adding to innovations seen in the ill-fated Vista. Satisfied users describe the Windows 7 experience to be more intuitive, while allowing the customization that makes for a more personal computing experience. Microsoft has been touting the overall improvements in system operation, enhanced security, and a retooling to take advantage of the latest advances in computer processing power as some of the key benefits.

From the user standpoint, it’s the new or improved features that make the move to a new system a worthy consideration. Windows 7 includes the latest version of Internet Explorer, an enhanced Taskbar, integration with the Windows Live Essentials suite of applications, simplified file organization, search and retrieval, and HomeGroup, a control center that makes it easier to share files, printers, and other resources over a network without compromising security.

If you aren’t ready to purchase a new PC with Windows 7 already installed, the new system is offered in three editions: Home Premium, $119.99; Professional, $199.99; and Ultimate, $219.99. The Professional and Ultimate versions can run most XP-compatible programs in Windows 7 with virtual software Windows XP Mode, a free download.

Biding Their Time

Burned by their experience with Vista, some have been reluctant to join Windows 7’s initial wave of users. In fact, many remain happy with what they are already using; they accept Windows 7 lies somewhere in their future, but will upgrade only when they have no other options.

Deborah Rutter, sales associate and e-PRO® with Nest Realty Group, Charlottesville, Va., has sampled Windows 7 on a home computer, but will stick with Windows XP Professional at work for now. “Windows 7 looks pretty intuitive and user-friendly and has some pretty neat upgrades, the best of which is way faster boot-up time,” she reports.

But she resists the temptation to be an early adopter of any new software. “Being on the bleeding edge is fraught with issues, complications, and messes. ... My customers are not interested in being a guinea pig,” Rutter says. “I like to have the real-world users shake loose the troublesome bits and wait for an interim upgrade first.”

Al Cannistra, associate and e-PRO®, RE/MAX San Antonio, agrees completely. “My focus is on keeping my business running and not being real world Beta2!,” he says. “One does not always have to be on the bleeding edge. Sometimes letting others work out the bugs and waiting for a service pack release is a good strategy.”

Also an XP user, his hesitancy reflects what’s he’s been told by some who have upgraded. “I have heard there is a lot of pain associated in migrating (on an older PC). Generally, the recommendation seems to be to do a clean install as the optimal solution. I figure what I have works fine — so why make the change? ... Once the dust settles on Windows 7 and my machine is a little older, I think the move is inevitable. I also think at this time, it is non-urgent.”

Glad He Upgraded

Bob Riddle, a residential sales associate with Prudential Tropical Realty, Port Richey, Fla., is happy he made the move up. “I like Windows 7 very much, it’s very easy to use,” he says. Riddle bypassed Vista, and cautiously weighed this latest operating system. “I took a good look at Windows 7 before upgrading from XP. It’s real intuitive, almost like a dressed-up version of XP with some nice new features.”

Riddle also manages the tech help desk for the company’s 500-plus agents, and has advised others on their migration to Windows 7. “A lot of them have been buying new computers because they are not as expensive as they were a few years ago,” he observes. “The problem with taking older computers and trying to move up is that if it’s too old, it just can’t handle Windows 7,” he says.

When a notebook or desktop PC does meet the Windows 7 recommended requirements, Riddle says the biggest issue has been getting the right version of the new operating system. All three editions of Windows 7 are offered in 32- and 64-bit versions. “You've got to know which type of processor you have. Once you do, there aren’t any real issues other than making sure you have the right drivers,” for printers and other peripherals, he explains.

For owners of existing computers who are considering an upgrade, Microsoft offers a software Upgrade Advisor that you can download here to see if your system can handle Windows 7.