One of the most common questions I’m always asked is whether it’s important that they upgrade to the latest version of Microsoft Windows or to the latest version of Microsoft Office. If I were asked this question 10 years ago, I probably would have answered, depending upon your circumstances – not necessarily (mainly because the pricing models for annual software licenses made these a bit cost-prohibitive.) However today, I believe the decision is a no brainier – Windows and Office should absolutely be kept up to date. I’ll go a little in-depth as to why this has changed and why I think keeping them up to date is important.
This is by far the most important reason to keep software up to date. Hackers and bad actors will always go for the low hanging fruit when attempting to penetrate systems. In almost all cases this is through exploiting weaknesses in software, or exploiting how the users use the software (more on this later). You might argue that as long as i keep installing security patches all will be great but this isn’t necessarily always true. Microsoft historically has only released security updates for a limited period of time for each operating system and security vulnerabilities may not necessarily be in the actual software, they could also be by design (or relate to how the software is being used). The Australian government lists software updates as a top priority when looking to protect yourself online and this is even more important for a business.
You might think that this is only important for your Windows Software – what could possibly go wrong with my ‘Office’ software? Actually quite a bit – Microsoft Outlook has been the target of numerous attacks over the years trying to exploit it’s weaknesses as the most popular email client. Microsoft Word & Excel are capable of running malicious scripts stored in Documents.
It’s a user expectation
We are now moving into an era where it’s common place for any given device (weather it be mobile or otherwise) be operating the latest version of software. This is certainly true with mobiles, Apple Iphone users are running the latest version of the software on 2 out of 3 devices (and it’s only been out a couple of months), and 90% of the remainder are running the previous version. Android also has similar figures. Microsoft has been at the envy of these sorts of figures as generally in the past windows users have been spread across several different versions of software. It’s even user expectation on Windows Mobile devices – and now it’s definitely becoming an expectation in the desktop/laptop environment.
If you have team members that use more than one computer, or even have to assist other staff running on slightly different versions of software, it will become apparent how much of a drain that running disparate systems can be. Microsoft have generally improved on this issue over the years, however it’s impact can’t be overstated.
It’s a win-win for everyone involved
Of late Microsoft has moved to a new model for it’s Windows operating system. Instead of releasing one big update every couple of years, they are moving to a model by which the operating system is updated in smaller increments every 6 months (in Windows 10). This is good for users, because it means that they can generally be presented with a consistent user experience when using the software. It’s good for businesses because it means they are only having to plan on running their line of business software on one platform. It’s good for IT support as they are only supporting a narrow range of software and It’s good for Microsoft because it also lowers their support costs. It seems that Microsoft have realised the benefit in always keeping the operating system software up to date and as such have lowered the cost/barrier to ensuring that this is always the case. Lets hope it continues.
On the Microsoft Office front it’s a similar story. Usually in the past you needed to buy a new version of the Office Software if you wanted to get the new features. Software assurance licences were available in volume however these are extremely cost prohibitive for small businesses. This is where Office 365 has changed the game. You simply pay a small monthly fee for each user, and that entitles that user or employee to use the entire suite of Microsoft Applications across all of the devices that they have. This is great because it’s much easier on cash flow making budgeting much easier to plan for. It’s great for users because they are always using the most up to date version of the software, and once again it’s great for Microsoft meaning they can focus on delivering the best possible experience for it’s customers at all times.
We’re here to help.
We’ve been helping our customers keep their software up to date over the years and also make the transition to more cohesive platforms (Current Windows 10 and Office 365). We’re always up for a chat – so feel free to email us or give us a call on 08 6467 0000.