Let’s face it; it’s time to replace your workstation. You come into work one day, and a brand-new PC is at your desk. It’s likely smaller than your old one. You press the power button. A pleasant beep and the sound of a miniature category 2 hurricane whirls from the fans coming to life. A few swirling dots later, and you're greeted with a beautiful image. You enter your password. A "Hi" flashes up on the screen, followed by, “We’re happy you’re here” and finally, “Getting things ready, please don’t turn off your PC.” Moments later, you are presented with a nice, clean desktop image, complete with a sleek black task bar. Your muscle memory kicks in. You click where the Start button used to be, *click*. “What? Where the heck is the Start Button?!”
User paranoia is real. As a veteran help desk manager, I see firsthand the anxiety created by computer replacements. My hope is this article will remove some paranoia by explaining why PC’s need to be replaced to begin with.
Windows 7 is a good operating system. It’s reliable, familiar, and still supported by Microsoft and third-party vendors. While these are all true, July 2019 will mark the 10-year anniversary of its launch. In January 2020, it will no longer be supported. The technological landscape has changed, and the two primary reasons for that change are: security and mobility.
Enter the more secure Windows 10. In their 2018 Threat Report, security firm Webroot declared Windows 10 twice as secure as Windows 7. Windows 7 continued the Microsoft tradition of releasing security updates on a weekly update schedule. IT administrators liked this because they could control the rollout of updates and block any which may have unintended consequences. However, this meant there could be up to a week’s delay before a fix would be made available to patch a security hole. Windows 10 resolves this by checking for updates every 17-22 hours and automatically deploys the updates with no opportunity for IT support intervention. More secure? Yes. There is more potential for something to go wrong when you come in the next day, as well. Unfortunately, this is the price we must pay for improving the protection of your systems and data.
Windows 10 is going to feel more familiar with time, partly because we’re getting accustomed to using smartphones. You might recall that Microsoft first tried to introduce a touch user interface (UI) with its “Metro” UI as part of Windows 8. Windows 8 and Metro never gained mainstream acceptance. But with more and more touchscreen laptops, tablets, and smartphones, Microsoft is highly motivated to build a single UI that works well with both a touchscreen and the conventional mouse and keyboard. To accommodate this transition, Windows 10 combined the tactile philosophy of Windows 8 with the ease of use of Windows 7.
When you click on the Start menu, you have icons which allow you to shut down and restart your PC, as well as access the PC settings, your Pictures, and your Documents. If you ever forget what they do, you can simply hover over them and a help box will appear. Another new feature of the Windows 10 Start menu is when opened, you can type the name of the application you want and select it from the results. There are also “Live Tiles” which update in real time for things like news, weather, recent emails, and photos.
Not only has Windows 10 become more secure, and more touch friendly, some would say the best improvement is Windows 10 loads and wakes from sleep much faster than Windows 7. This advantage may continue to increase, since Windows 10 is still being improved by Microsoft developers.
Lastly, Windows 10 is bringing a friend to the party. Her name is Cortana. Like Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant, and Amazon’s Alexa, Cortana is a voice-activated virtual assistant. She can be summoned by saying, “Hey Cortana”. Cortana is my favorite virtual assistant out there. Not only does she do most of what the others do, but she has more personality. Try it out. Ask Cortana, “Open Word”, “What’s my schedule today?”, “What’s the weather?” or for a laugh, “What does the fox say?”. If you ask her, “What’s new in Windows 10?” she’ll return several YouTube video results for you to see all that is new.
One other key feature I have come to enjoy from Cortana are the “Heads up” emails. As an example, Cortana will review my emails and notice if I mention to someone that I’ll take care of something by Wednesday. Cortana will remind me on Tuesday with an email in the morning.
Hopefully your paranoia has subsided. Hopefully your focus is now less on “how will I get my work done in this new environment?” and more on “let’s see how this new environment can help me get my work done faster!” After all, your time is better spent on obtaining and retaining clients, making sure renewals are started far enough in advance, and being able to service that 4:45PM call on a Friday from the dealership about the new car your insured just picked up. While some things in the Insurance world will rarely change, technology will. With this better understanding of why it changes though, the next time it changes on you, my wish for you is that your response will be of curious hope, rather than paranoia.
Published in Primary Agent Magazine, December 2018