operating systems

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Having out of date drivers, especially network drivers, can cause problems with network reliability and stability. This was a particularly acute problem when Windows 7 was first introduced. In many situations network performance was much slower than Windows XP and/or not as reliable.

While the migration to Windows 8 appears to be going more slowly than it did from Windows 7 to XP, we are wondering if similar experiences and problems will arise in this new environment as well.

We’ve also found that using the Microsoft’s driver version update/check feature is unreliable. Often driver updates are available from the original equipment manufacturer’s website yet the Microsoft check utility reports that the driver is up to date.

Another challenge is that original equipment manufacturers sometimes have difficult to navigate websites and it is often not possible to establish what network adaptor/driver version is being used that requires updating. In a situation like this it is sometimes a trial and error process to determine which download is applicable to your situation. Add to all this a situation where you have many different PC’s with different LAN cards in use, and the difficulties escalate.

One solution to these problems we like is to use Advanced System Care to do the hard work automatically. The company provides a free version and besides checking and updating your drivers for you, it also includes various other disk and system clean-up tools that can improve your PC and network performance. We’re not paid to recommend this product. We’re mentioning it because it’s a good tool and it can save our users a lot of headaches, particularly if they are experiencing network related problems in their environment.

http://www.iobit.com/advancedsystemcareper.html

A question we are being asked more frequently these days is whether CAPITAL runs on Windows 8. The short answer, for the current editions of our software (which happens to be V8), is yes. CAPITAL Business Manager, CAPITAL Sales Force Manager and CAPITAL Warehouse Manager, all run on Windows 8, whether the OS is 32-bit or 64-bit.

The next question that arises, which is more difficult to answer, is should I upgrade to Windows 8?

There is a judgement call involved here but if we’re being asked for advice then our suggestion is to keep doing what’s always been done in the past, which is to wait, if you can. After a new OS release, a safe bet is to wait at least 12 months before upgrading your equipment or replacing it, and if you can wait longer, that’s even better. Now we say wait not because there is anything wrong with the current deployments of Windows 8 software. Windows 8 is stable and a good operating system. Microsoft does a lot of quality assurance testing and a lot of backward compatibility testing, and that’s all well and good.

The real problem, unfortunately, is everyone else. Printer and hardware manufacturers, peripheral makers, and many software developers, frequently need much more time to catch up. And many more never do.

Something very similar happened with the migration from Windows XP to Windows 7 and there is no reason to believe things will be any different this time around. What a lot of users discovered (and we discovered this ourselves in our own network environment) was that a lot of hardware wasn’t really 100% right when it first rolled out the door. And a lot of that early equipment never did get it right.

A case in point was, for example, our Dell Laptop From Hell. When we connected it to our test server, a venerable 2003 box, it never did cope well. It was slow across the network. In fact, painfully slow, but of even more concern, it was never particularly stable. It would exchange network information for a while and then applications would freeze. This typically happened every hour or so, so it wasn’t a joy of a machine to be working on. We spent a lot of time trying to make it work. We turned off automatic sleep mode on the network card, we went to the network vendor’s website and installed the latest network adaptor drivers. (Of course, Microsoft’s update check utility told us the driver was current, but it wasn’t.) We also turned off anything running in the background that didn’t seem particularly important. Now all this helped, but it never completely fixed the problem. The laptop still froze, but now it froze maybe once or twice a day instead of every hour.

Eventually we cut our losses and threw it out. We bought a generic brand laptop that was a year or so older than the Dell, and it worked fine. A year in the computer industry makes a big difference.

Very similar stories came in from some of our user sites about their experiences with Windows 7. The biggest problems of all arose when machines running Windows XP, and some of these machines were several years old at least, were upgraded to Windows 7. Some froze, some locked up, some couldn’t print or printed across the network very slowly. There were lots of strange problems with these older machines running the latest rendition of Windows. Another big issue at the time was that network access seemed slower on Windows 7 than it did on XP. Nowadays of course, if you go out and buy a new PC and it has Windows 7 installed on it, you would be very unlucky to experience many, or any, problems of this type.

So now we come back to the above question: should I upgrade to Windows 8?

Our rule of thumb: not unless you have to. Wait one year. Two if you can. If your machine is running XP or Windows 7 fine, leave it that way. When you buy a new PC it will have Windows 8 on it anyway. Let natural attrition govern your transition to the latest and greatest version of Windows 8. Unless, of course, you have very specific reasons for why you might need to run Windows 8 right now. Or time and budget is not an issue at your company.