Why not upgrading your OS says more then you think

Published by Matt Setchell on

Yesterday I posted a little tweet, and I had a really good discussion with a few other educational professionals about it, and I wanted to post a bit more about it. Then I remembered I had a blog, so thought I would write something down, here is the tweet:

So, what do I mean? How can a school not upgrading it’s OS show bigger issues? Firstly, let me outline a few things.

My issue with schools without a plan to upgrade, and, I have deliberately used the term schools, and not my fellow IT staff. Is that it shows the wider issues with school’s and MAT’s outlook on IT in education, poor planning, no long term financial planning and a failure to keep moving forward, preferring (or not being able to afford due to budget cuts) to simply keep it going. At the same time, they are expecting more and systems to be IT based, they are turning to IT to solve issues with collaboration and cost cutting particularity over MATS

Sure, in some cases, the lack of upgrades is down to poor IT staff, with no vision and a fear of change. But, in a lot of cases, it’s down to the schools.

Windows 10 came out on 29th July 2015, so over 3 years ago now. It is tried, and tested. And whilst far from issue free, it is stable and usable in schools. Windows 7 was released in 2009, 9 years ago. Moreover, there is no replacement for Windows 10 planned. Microsoft have changed their release style, and Windows 10 is constantly being developed and updated. New versions are released on a regular schedule, and contain features and security updates. The vast majority of drivers, and software work with Windows 10, in short, there is no reason for schools to be using Windows 7.

In fact, schools who have not upgraded, or have one planned in the next 12 months are highlighting many other issues in their IT provision.

No plan.

With the OS being out for 3 years now, you would have hoped it would be in schools 3 year plans to upgrade their core software, if upgrading the OS is not in their plan, then what is? Is there even one? Any future hardware or software purchases must surely be based on plans of which OS you will be running?

Legacy software

One reason given for not upgrading is legacy software, software that has already been coaxed onto Windows 7 in many cases, and wont go to Windows 10. Simply, that is unacceptable. Software that is not able to run on current OS’s is not something that should be on your networks. It shows poor network management. The lack of funding argument, is reversed by the potential cost of disruption caused by potential security risks, or holding back systems and users due to the legacy software.

Furthermore, arguments of requiring to be in sync with other establishments, is not viable. Whilst standardisation is important, the other arguments I am making can apply to all schools and a highlight a wider need for change. Poor management and planning at other locations should not be blamed for your network following suit, the other environment you are running old software to keep the same versions with would be unlikely to assist you if said software caused your system to go down.

Furthermore, by leading the way and upgrading your software, you are assisting techies at other sites to push schools to follow and upgrade. Being someone who has managed schools that have taken the lead in upgrades, it has always caused others to upgrade.

Indeed, if not an immediate possibility, plans are key, and budgeting for upgrades ensures leaders are aware that software is an ongoing cost, not a one off.

Poor budget management

Cost is often cited as a reason for not upgrading, this is either the cost of licences, or of upgrading hardware and software.

Firstly, the cost of the OS, schools with sensible plans and budgeting will have identified the EES agreements as a cost effective way to manage Microsoft licences. Based on yearly FTE, all analysis I have done have indicated, that with an OS upgrade 2 times over a 5 year period, it works out several thousands cheaper then buying one off licences each time for OS and Office.So, upgrading to Windows 10, with EES, should bear no additional cost. If your hardware cannot run Windows 10, it probably can’t run Windows 7, and again, your school has bigger issues.

Secondly, the cost of upgrading legacy software is a cost that should be budgeted for anyway, regardless of whether the OS is upgraded, as I said above, software is not a one off cost, for it to be effective, and engaging, new features and updates are key to its success and adoption by staff. Security updates are required for it to continue to work effectively and meet your network security requirements – you do have network security requirements, right? Don’t forget the cost of you to keep it running, and the cost to users forced to use outdated OS, hardware or other software as a result.

The OS is not ready yet.

This annoys me the most. Stop talking rubbish. Is it you or the OS that isn’t ready? Windows 7 may just be working well, but it has been out for 9 years, probably deployed for 7 years or so in your school, over that time is been tweaked and updated, but I assure you at launch it was viewed in the same way by many.

Pupils and staff are already using it at home, it is our job to make it work. It may not be perfect (it’s not, certainly its ability to be effective in schools where users hot desk is obviously problematic at times) but it is no worse then any other MS OS has been at this stage, infact, with the regular updates, each version is getting better.

And actually, the issue with roaming profiles and no longer being supported, has been on the horizon for a while, MS are looking to other solutions (cloud based) for their replacement, the problem is, IT experts in schools are not able to afford to go and learn about this tech, due to budget cuts. In addition, MS’s ability to roll out new tech in an easy to understand way is not existent

Going a back a bit – the key point that staff and students are using it already at home. Usage and engagement in school IT drive innovation and secure efficiencies we promise by implementing systems. Using old OS and software reduces engagement, and therefore usage..If staff and pupils are using it at home, and you are not in your school then expect a fall.

To summarise, not having a plan as a school to upgrade your OS shows many other issues with your schools IT strategy, and whilst sometimes this is down to the tech not doing their job proper (they are the schools we help the most at Lourdes IT!) many times it is schools not understanding the wider implications that not investing in your IT provision causes.

So, basically that is my point, as usual it’s my sit down and just write it mode, so apologies if a bit random, but then it is my blog, so there we go! Feel free to tweet me your thoughts! www.twitter.com/msetchell