With Windows 7 installed on most new computers, many clients are asking about software compatibility and considering upgrading.
If you are going to get a new computer the first thing to do is make a list of all your essential software. Then contact your consultant, or go to the company website, and make sure the software is Windows 7 compatible. Remember to check which version of Windows 7 will work. In some cases the 32-bit edition of Windows 7 may be supported but the 64-bit edition may not work, or you may need a Windows 7 Business edition not Home edition. In many cases you can run old version of software in Windows XP mode however, there may be performance issues. Additionally, if you have problems the vendor may not provide support.
You also want to check for drivers compatible with any hardware components you are keeping, printers are especially important. Again look carefully at what Windows 7 versions are supported.
Once you have identified software that needs to be upgraded look carefully at the system requirements. You want to make sure your new computer will have enough memory and hard drive space. I recommend ignoring minimum system requirements, if listed, and looking only at the recommended requirements. Even then you should assume the memory (RAM) requirements are low, as most vendors don’t assume you will be running multiple applications at once when they create the requirements. In my opinion every computer bought for a business should be running a business version of Windows 7 and have a minimum of 2 GB of RAM, more is better.
If you are getting a new computer make sure you know what you need in order to install your software or the upgraded version. For an upgrade you might need access to the old version or some codes. For an existing version you will probably need the install CD or download file and some type of code. Having this information before you start saves time and aggravation.
Always make a backup of your data and then run any recommended database maintenance procedures. This is true whether you are moving the data to the same version on a new computer or upgrading the software on your existing computer.
Depending on the application you might want to run record counts in the old version and compare them with the new version or run key reports in both versions for comparison. If there are differences it might not be a problem, as sometimes new versions change defaults for reports, but it does mean you need to investigate further.
One last suggestion, try to give everyone involved advanced notice. If you are working with an IT person but want the software consultant available, giving them a call in advance helps them work with you. The software consultant can make sure they will be available and can provide guidance on anything specific that should be done. Often they will do the install with the IT people since the consultant has the expertise on the application. Getting it done right the first time is generally less expensive, and less frustrating than getting it fixed.
To help you get started, here are some links to system requirements. Remember the requirements are just a starting point. Work with your IT team and your consultant to determine what is needed for your environment.