Windows Vista launched to plenty of hype, but the buzz fizzled quickly when a host of shortcomings directly related to the operating system began to surface. Security, performance, and device compatibility issues made it too big a gamble for many businesses to wager. From a reliability standpoint, Windows XP, which preceded it by more than five years, was seen as a safer bet.

Flash forward to 2009. Windows 7 is on the shelves, and companies that gambled with Vista are flocking to the upgrade center. This system was well received by the business community for its functionality, in addition to the security, stability, and reliability perks that Vista lacked. With Microsoft recently launching another operating system, professionals once again have to decide whether to scale up, or stay in the comfort zone with their current software.

Windows 7 is still proving its worth as a reliable workhorse in several organizations, especially those that recently upgraded from XP or the troublesome Vista. However, these attractive features make a compelling case for moving up to Windows 8 as soon as possible.

Better Backup Technology

Although statistics show that companies as a whole are not taking backups as serious as they should, it continues to be a critical business need. With Windows 8, Microsoft introduced a new feature by the name of File History, which appears to be inspired from Apple’s backup tool Timeline on Mac OS X. File History is very useful as it automatically backs up your files and allows you to restore them from an intuitive timeline interface. This feature will surely come in handy for IT managers looking to protect sensitive data and save time while doing it.

Another improvement to its backup technology can be seen in Refresh. What this tool does is prevent you from having to backup data and settings for the purpose of restoring the system to its original settings. In a nutshell, your can “refresh” the state of the machine, while keeping your settings, documents, photos, videos, and other data intact. The only thing you have to restore manually is any desktop software you may have installed.

Improved Wireless Connectivity

Wireless connectivity is one area in which Windows has dramatically improved with each release. Windows 8 takes the biggest leap forward yet with features such as the new and improved Wi-Fi manager. Instead of seeking out the closet Wi-Fi network like its predecessors, this feature analyzes the quality of network signals, then chooses which ever has the most optimal bandwidth. This a smarter way to go about connecting considering that the nearest signal isn’t always the best.

A connection-related feature that offers something businesses really can take advantage of is the built-in meter that allows you to measure data usage. The never-ending need to be connected. Smartphones. Tablets. The plethora of apps. It adds up to enough usage to threaten, if not exceed data plan limits on a monthly basis. Proper use of this feature will come in handy for organizations and individuals cautious of hefty overage fees.

Deeper Desktop Virtualization

Outside of the IT world, we hear a lot about cloud computing, but very little about virtualization, the driving force behind its power. Microsoft has been playing with desktop virtualization for some time, but really started turning heads when integrating Virtual PC in desktop versions of Windows. This feature made it possible for IT managers to run a virtual copy of XP within Windows 7.

Windows 8 took things to another level with robust support for desktop vitualization. Leveraging Virtual Desktop Infrastructure technology, the new system can create multiple virtual PCs within a single physical machine, enabling the desktop computer to function more like a server. Windows 8 also bundles User Experience Virtualization (UE-V), a technology that allows users to move between machines while keeping their operating system and application settings intact. This feature is handy for remote workers moving across server and desktop systems.

Move Your Business Forward

Quite a few businesses will hold onto Windows XP to the very end. The same may be true for Windows 7 when its days are officially numbered. It can be tough to let go of the tools that held us down for so long, but we can’t live in the past. Technology moves so fast that it can render the systems we once stood by less effective, secure, and reliable. So while you may get by with those older versions, Windows 8, or any newer system, will likely give your business the biggest advantage.

About the author:

Francis Santos is a writer for Benchmark Events, a best practices event marketing company.