Tech Trends

Windows 10 and Office 2016

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Written by Randy Johnston

In an earlier post about Windows 10, I suggested the product was worthy of review. Based on Microsoft’s currently announced strategies, we recommend adoption as soon as your software is compatible. Further, Microsoft Office is being revised, and is likely to be released under the name Microsoft Office 2016. While Office 2016 is not a “must have” upgrade like Office 2013 was, there are enough improvements, including Mac support, that strategically it makes sense to get your organization on both of these Microsoft offerings as soon as it is reasonable for you.

Again, make sure you test your applications for compatibility. We expect some applications to not work properly, but a good working rule is: If the application works on Windows 7 or 8, it will work with Windows 10. If the applications work with Office 2010 or 2013, they will likely work with Office 2016.

Editor’s Note: Randy Johnston is a top rated technology speaker at the annual Sleeter Group SleeterCon. Microsoft expects to have one billion copies of Windows 10 in use within one year after release.

Why Move to Windows 10?

Microsoft has made this decision pretty easy. Plus, the technology seems to be working well.

  • FREE upgrade for Windows 7, 8 or XP users, but you must register to receive the upgrade before the release date, currently July 29, and for XP users install a current beta of Windows 10.
  • Indications are that Windows 10 will continue to be supported for free for 3-4 years.
  • The addition of XP as a free upgrade is a relatively recent addition. We have gone back to hardware that was designed for Windows XP, installed Windows 10, and the experience was quite acceptable.
  • The user interface works for either touch screen or non-touch users.
  • Application snapping makes using larger monitors much better by providing a simple way to open four windows simultaneously using the Windows key.
  • Navigating to files on your local machine is enhanced by having 20 recently used files accessible along with other pinned folders.
  • If you are using Microsoft Cloud technologies, like OneDrive, there is support throughout the system.
  • The product seems fast, stable and productive.
  • The biggest risk is Microsoft’s replacement web browser for Internet Explorer, called Edge. If you are a QuickBooks Online user, you already know you really need to use Chrome. The new minimalist browser is too minimal and buggy as of this writing.
  • And did I mention it is FREE?!?

Why Move to Office 2016?

Microsoft has not announced the availability date or the final feature set as of this writing. However, subscribers to Office 365 will get this product as part of their subscription, as will users that are on Open Licenses with Software Assurance.

  • Most of the features seem to be about integration to Microsoft collaboration strategies and Office 365
  • Outlook seems faster and has new filtering capabilities
  • PowerPoint has new presentation tools
  • Word has new formatting controls
  • Excel has extended formatting controls and People Graphs
  • OneNote has slight editing improvements
  • And so on
  • However, there are user interface changes to support touch screens

One key change in Office 2016 that will affect many of you is direct support of Office 2016 on the Mac, almost completing the convergence of the Office product lines for Windows and Mac into a single offering. Feature parity isn’t perfect, but it is close. Part of the reason this is needed is to enable the extremely interesting and useful feature of application streaming in Office 365. Although I don’t know this for a fact, it seems that streaming will allow Microsoft to support all common platforms: Windows, Mac, Mobile, and—later this year—Android and iOS. In the meantime, the web applications in Office 2016 continue to get stronger and more feature-rich so Microsoft can effectively compete against Google Apps. Further, the web applications minimize the need for a local instance of Microsoft Office or streaming.

Windows 10 runs perfectly well with Office 2013, but there are subtle and useful changes in Office 2016 if you regularly use a touch screen. Those of you who know me well have noted that I won’t buy another computer without touch screen support. It is part of the reason I have stopped using all Mac computers…too much loss of productivity.

By the way, I’m certainly not anti-Mac, anti-Google, anti-Zoho, anti-OpenOffice or anti any other products that do their job well. I am pro security, speed, productivity and compatibility. I believe Microsoft has earned their market position again with the release of these two products, Windows 10 and Office 2016. Even though you may be trying for an all-cloud strategy, most of you will continue to use the Microsoft Office suite locally for maximum speed, flexibility and power. Over time, we will discover that the browser versions of these products may be “good enough” to do everything, but that day is not here yet for those of us with large models, or for those times when we don’t have Internet access. Windows 10 and Office 2016 have both taken clear steps toward enabling transparent synchronization to your private Microsoft Storage and collaboration with others using that cloud-based storage.

Conclusions

Although we usually discuss technology in the context of what should be considered in future purchases, this release of both Windows 10 and Office 2016 should be adopted sooner rather than later. Your costs should be minimal, and your learning curve should not be too steep. Further, I’m forecasting your productivity will go up from these products that run faster, with stability, and with more usability than any release we have seen to date.

Randy Johnston and his NMGI team provide IT consulting services and recommendations to Sleeter Group Consultants Network members as a benefit and part of their membership. If you have questions on any hardware, software, procedures, or IT strategies for your firm, contact helpdesk@nmgi.com with your questions or to schedule a time to speak.


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About the author

Randy Johnston

Randolph P. (Randy) Johnston, MCS has been a top rated speaker in the technology industry for over 30 years. He was inducted into the Accounting Hall of Fame in 2011. He was selected as a Top 25 Thought Leader in Accounting from 2011-2013. His influence throughout the accounting industry is highlighted once again this year by being a recipient of the 2013 Accounting Today Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting award for the tenth consecutive year. Among his many other awards he holds the honor of being one of nine technology stars in the U.S. by Accounting Technology Magazine. Randy writes a monthly column for The CPA Practice Advisor, articles for the Journal of Accountancy, and creates articles for both accounting and technology publications, as well as being the author of numerous books. He has started and owns multiple businesses including K2 Enterprises in Hammond, Louisiana and Network Management Group, Inc. (NMGI) in Hutchinson, Kansas. In 2010, NMGI announced their national support of CPA firms. His wife and four children enjoy many experiences together including theatre, music, travel, golf, skiing, snorkeling and model trains.

39 Comments

  • Randy, thank you for pointing out that Windows XP users need to register AND install the pre release prior to the 29th to be able to get the free upgrade. I wasn’t aware of that. Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about XP, nor do any of my clients, as we’ve gotten rid of that across the board.

  • I’d be questioning Microsoft’s thinking around going from XP to Win10 via an upgrade for many people. My concern would be the age of the underlying hardware. XP was released back in 2001 so many machines are likely to be quite old and the thing is, HDDs and even Motherboards don’t last forever, electronics age and reliability becomes an issue. Maybe a good time to plan for a hardware refresh if you’re running XP – and as Charlie said, there are heaps of reasons to get off that OS.

    • Note that the Win10 pre-release will simply not install on the multitude of XP systems that do not have adequate hardware. Although it will install on a system that needs more memory and thus runs like a hog. PS: There is plenty of high quality hardware from the past that will still be running years beyond a new system you can buy today.

    • John, an early part of the upgrade process is a system test that will tell you if your hardware can support Windows 10, so that should be covered. Of course, I agree with you, any old XP system should be replaced even if you can install Windows 10 on it.

      • That’s exactly the point I was trying to make Charlie, just because you can doesn’t mean you should – maybe I’m being too pessimistic but many of the XP machines out there will be running into things like MTBF for their HDDs I think 🙂

  • But don’t forget that if you are on a network with a modern server (Server 2012 Essentials) say goodbye to any system that gets upgraded to Win10. Microsoft has been inexplicably late in providing the connector.

  • Hi Randy,

    Interesting article. It does pose a lot of questions, though, for Windows Server environments.

    Microsoft has delayed Windows 10 or 2016 Server (NT) release until 2016. In the past, they usually released a Client and a Server at the same time. In fact, it was a policy of Microsoft at one point. But this is a new Microsoft now.

    Cloud development with Microsoft Azure is making this all very misty and sometimes murky…

    Assuming Windows 10 or X Server, etc. will replace Windows Server 2012 R2 and there is no connector for Windows 10 clients to old Servers 2012, 2003, etc., it maybe more prudent for existing small business enterprises to wait on upgrading Windows 10 client laptops or desktop, etc. until Microsoft releases connectors or a supporting Windows Server, etc.

    Any thoughts on this, any other comments, or information that we may not have found?

    Most folks using Windows Server 2012 R2 are running it in Server Core mode, which pretty much eliminates the Windows 8-type interface. Windows Server 2012 R2 is a pretty amazing platform. It’s secure and feature rich. It also works with most other apps. including the finance and accounting software marketplace apps, etc. Hosting companies often have it in place, too.

    With this in mind, what could a Windows 10, X, 2016 (NT) or next Server bring to the party other than another new interface or the connectors for Windows 10 Clients? Any ideas or comments?

    Any thoughts, comments or issues on this topic, as well? Or, concerns for other app. support?

    Thanks,

    Tamra

    Tamra Groff, Senior Consultant, GASC/GHFG

    • Microsoft will have the connector for Win10 to Server 2012 R2 “soon.” But it will have to be manually installed until they integrate it to Server in “October.”

  • Microsoft has now shut down the ability to get Win10 pre-release for PC (XP path). You can still get pre-release Win10 phone.

  • Hi Pete and Charlie,

    Thank you for the update on Microsoft WIN 10 connectors and the XP upgrade changes, to date.

    Thank you Charlie for the Windows and Intuit links, to follow the progress with Windows 10.

    Most likely, the existing small business enterprises who have network environments with Intuit QB Enterprise will wait on upgrading Windows 10 client laptops or desktop, etc. until Microsoft releases connectors integrated to Windows Server 2012, 2016 or 10, etc. The current 2012 R 2 is so stable. And Intuit update releases have not been the most bug free. All third party add on apps. will need to be tested, too, as most QB Enterprise environments have custom fields and add on’s to extend functionality. If all is stable in October or November 2015, most clients will schedule WIN 10 updates for late January or February 2016, after year end calendar processes.

    Thanks again for the continual updates on Microsoft, and Intuit, especially regarding WIN 10.

    Hope others will post their experiences and concerns, if any.

    Tamra Groff, Senior Consultant, GASC/GHFG

    • You say “will” and “most clients”. I hope that is the case, but I’m waiting for people to start complaining about issues, saying “I did this update and have troubles”, rather than asking us ahead of time if it is a good idea…

      I’m not sure what the issue is with custom fields, though – that won’t have any impact on conversion to Windows 10.

      • Hi Charlie,

        Agreed. But, we cannot make them do something or stop them from doing it, even if they shouldn’t or have some mitigating circumstances. Clients need to be able to run their own companies. Clients come in all styles. Good consultants are flexible.

        Agreed, they should ask ahead of time if it is a good idea… Some do and some do not.

        Agreed, custom fields in QB Enterprise won’t have any impact on conversion to Windows 10. But if after a conversion to Windows 10, a Third Party app. or Quick Base custom app. or modification which makes use of a custom field no longer runs, runs poorly, improperly, or needs a new setup or modification, the client will say “I did this update and have troubles”, to use your words, and “the custom field no longer works”. Unwittingly, they will associate the two. Seen this over and over.

        At most of our clients, we also work with IT departments or outsourced IT groups. They are sometimes the worst. Because they never ask us and often do not test any other apps., especially financial and accounting. And when they blow away the environments, we get the panic calls. When we can, we help mitigate this.

        As you know Intuit updates, releases, and upgrades have not been bug free, either. Clients do not differentiate like we, as Consultants, do. They made a change and now they have problems. Why and fix it are the response, not tell us all the details.

        This is all why it is up to us, as consultants, to share here, at technical blogs, and/or test, test, do more testing and further testing… with all apps and mods concerned.

        After a number of years in technology, I have to say every generation of technology has bugs, problems, and fixes. It is not what they are, it is how we prepare or plan.

        You know all this…but with your new reporter and editor position, you need to ask.

        Thank you Charlie for all you do, you care and really save everyone loads of time…

        Let us hope these Windows 10 conversions will go as planned. Keep us posted.

        Sincerely,

        Tamra

        Tamra Groff, Senior Consultant, GASC/GHFG

  • So far the free Win10 upgrade has the propensity to silently fail (it is listed as failed in update history). A case where buggy is a good thing. Given the problems right up to the last pre-release, the only unis that should be upgraded now are in the lab and toys.

  • Randy – you said: “FREE upgrade for Windows 7, 8 or XP users.” That’s incorrect. There is no upgrade path – free or otherwise – from Windows XP to 10. The *only* way to get from Windows XP to 10 is to buy a copy of 10 and do a clean install.

  • Ray,
    I appreciate your comment. At the time the article was posted (and prior to the release date of July 29) you COULD get an upgrade from Windows XP. You are correct that you must NOW buy an upgrade from Windows XP.

    • No, it is impossible – and it has *always* been impossible – to upgrade from XP to 10 at no cost. Unless you upgraded from a Windows 7/8 license, any pre-release version of Windows 10 will expire. It is not possible – and it *never* has been possible – to switch from the pre-release version of Windows 10 to the final version *unless* the pre-release version was installed on top off Windows 7/8.

  • I’ve been running Windows 10 on some older hardware with amazingly good results. Remember to make sure that your applications are compatible. Microsoft has reported about 110 Million copies in use after two months of availability. They have a ways to go to reach their 1 Billion goal, but they are making good progress. I’m not over the top on Windows 10, but am against continued use of XP at this time.

    • From Microsoft: “This is not a path to attain a license for Windows XP or Windows Vista systems. If your system upgraded from a Genuine Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 license it will remain activated, but if not, you will be required to roll back to your previous OS version or acquire a new Windows 10 license. If you do not roll back or acquire a new license the build will eventually expire.”

      http://blogs.windows.com/windowsexperience/2015/06/19/upcoming-changes-to-windows-10-insider-preview-builds/

      • Ray, at the time the article was originally written, many people interpreted the information found in the Windows insider program as saying that you could upgrade for free from XP. Subsequently Microsoft updated the article that you refer to.

        Note, however, that you left out part of that paragraph. It starts off by referring to people who want to opt out of the Windows Insider program. If you stayed in that program then you would be able to upgrade your XP system, although some people have reported problems in that regard. I happen to have an old XP laptop that has successfully upgraded to Windows 10 for free, as it is still enrolled in the Windows Insider program. I have it just for testing, I wouldn’t recommend doing that with many XP systems. In my case, some hardware features (the touchpad for example) don’t work and performance is not very good. But for testing, it works.

        I also wouldn’t normally recommend that people stay in the Windows Insider program if they are working with a system for business use, other than for operating system testing.

        So, both you and Randy are correct – you could get a free upgrade under certain circumstances, but most people cannot.

        • Sure, you can install Windows 10 on absolutely an device that will support it at no cost via the Windows Insider Program – but, unless you’re upgrading from Windows 7/8 – you’re options are then to either 1) remain in WIP and keep on using one experimental build after another or 2) opt out of WIP and clean install the previous OS.

          The clear inference of the article was that, by installing a pre-release copy of Windows 10, XP users could get a free upgrade to a fully licensed version of Windows 10 – in the same way that Windows 7/8 could get a free upgrade. That’s not – and never was – the case.

  • Randy, I think further clarification is due. The path you spoke of where an XP licensed system could get Windows 10 free, was by use of the Windows Insider Preview build. That could be used on any system, whether it was previously XP was irrelevant. The key code for this install was the same for all. By the way, they recently released a new Windows Insider Preview build, but it specifically only works on systems with existing 7, 8, or 10 “public release” installed.

    As such, the 10 systems you have installed using the Insider license code are not fully legal. A 7 or 8 license sticker on a system is valid license for a system running 10, both in an audit sense and in terms of doing a re-install (having a valid key code). A XP license/sticker on a system does not validate license for 10 in the audit sense, and that key code will not activate any available 10 installation.

    Those 10 loads you did, from a practical standpoint, continue to function. For how long I do not know. But if you have a crash, you won’t be able to do a reload because the Insider key code will no longer work and neither will a XP code. So have a cold metal backup. By the way, 10 works great on a lot of old (formerly XP) Optiplex systems–better than does 8!

    I am excluding from this discussion all of the available (illegal) hacks, under which nothing is impossible.

    Sorry, this is based on my experience, I don’t have an authoritative link (Microsoft eschews clarity).

    • That’s absolutely correct, Pete. In relation to the Insider builds, it’s also worth noting that it’s experimental software (expect it not to work properly), that Microsoft could pull the plug on the Insider program at absolutely any time without any notice and that Insider builds have a different privacy policy to standard, fully licensed versions of Windows 10. Consequently, Insider builds should only be used by developers or by enthusiasts who want to play with latest version of Windows and are willing to put up with bugs and problems. The builds shouldn’t be used on production systems – or any system that you need to work reliably – or an systems that are used to process or store client or other sensitive data.

  • I hadn’t seen the latest posts when I wrote my last.

    Randy is right: Many old systems can continue giving excellent service, running Windows 10.

    Ray is right: You can’t do that for free.

    Charlie is right: If you did get it free using Insider, it ought not be used for a production system.

    And I am right: You guys are a valuable source of information.

  • Big Picture:

    Windows 10 is likely in your future, and it will work out; eventually.

    Best not to be in any rush though.

    There is one thing you must do immediately: get XP off the network.

    To that end, depending on the systems you have, the lowest cost fix for XP may be buying Windows 10 licenses (fresh install required, backup data). Test first before committing. Also, don’t expect Office 2003 and earlier to work on 10.

    • While Office 2003 is not supported under Windows 10, it does seem to work. That said, it’s certainly not sensible to run an unsupported application on an unsupported OS. Not in a production environment, anyway.

  • I think it’ll be not an easy work to ressurect the popularity of Microsoft Office, which are replaced by Google Docs. They you do some stuning invation, and I’ll keep reading news and waiting for some “bomb” that can push Microsoft forward!

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