Windows 10 and what to do about it in practice
Microsoft is gearing up for the release of the Windows 10 of its Windows operating system at the end of the month but healthcare providers are being urged to check with their clinical and practice management software vendors that their software is compatible before installing the upgrade.
While several vendors are reporting that most users will not notice a major difference with Windows 10 besides improvements to usability, most clinical and practice management software used in primary care is integrated with a number of third-party products that also need to be compatible with the upgrade.
General practice software vendor MedicalDirector has asked its customers not to upgrade to Windows 10 when it becomes available on July 29. “We are currently testing this version to identify the impact on our software and we request that our customers do not upgrade to this new operating system at this time,” the company told its customers last week.
“You can be assured that the upcoming releases of MedicalDirector Clinical, PracSoft and Blue Chip software available later this year will be compatible with this operating system.”
David Freemantle, general manager for product management at Fred IT Group, said his company was testing Fred with Windows 10 at the moment.
“Basically it all works with Fred, so we can say we will be Windows 10 compatible, but the problem – and all of the vendors will face this – is the third-party applications,” Mr Freemantle said. “There aren't any software vendors out there that aren't integrated with third party products.”
Mr Freemantle said the main feature that customers will notice is improvements to usability.
“Microsoft has resolved some of the problems with Windows 8 – Windows 8.1 was a big step up from that – and there are some big improvements,” he said. “You can tile apps now whereas before it was just one or the other, and they are bringing back the start menu, so the main improvement is in usability.”
Glen Germaine, owner of allied health practice management software vendor myPractice, said he had tested myPractice on Windows 10 and said "it installs and works just fine". The company has already updated its installer to meet the Windows 10 requirements, he said.
Mr Germaine has personally been running Windows 10 as part of the "Insider Preview" since late last year, and says his advice would be that customers should jump at it as long as their line of business applications all support it.
“It is very stable and the user interface improvements over Windows 8 and 8.1 make it a lot more usable for desktop PCs and laptops,” he said.
“I know that we, along with many of our customers have been frustrated by the Windows 8 'Start' screen. It was great for tablets and touch-enabled laptops – not good for desktops. The Start button and the Programs menu make life easier for most Windows desktop users.”
He said he had found that the Quick Access section in the File Explorer, incorporating Frequent Folders and Recent Files, had been very useful, but the update won't provide myPractice with anything that specifically enhances the program.
“At its core, it is essentially the same as Windows 8.1. Apparently the internal graphics side of things has been improved, but users won't really notice that.”
What is new is Microsoft Edge, a brand new browser that Microsoft says will give users a better web experience, and gadgets like Cortana, a 'personal digital assistant' that will work across Windows devices.
Cloud-based allied health software vendor coreplus is pretty much able to avoid the compatibility problems as its software is delivered as a service via a browser.
coreplus CEO John (Yianni) Serpanos said this was a distinct advantage over installed software, which is subject to the underlying operating system.
“In other words, as long as the internet browser is working with the operating system, coreplus is able to operate unaffected by the upgrade,” Mr Serpanos said.
“Given the mainstream browsers are typically Google Chrome, Apple Safari and Microsoft IE and those vendors ensure their browsers are compatible with operating system upgrades, we’re generally future proof when it comes to operating system upgrades.”
Robyn Peters, director of Direct Control, a business management and clinical solution for general practice, specialist practice and day surgeries, said her company had also been testing with Windows 10 as part of the Insider Preview.
Ms Peters said the software was now compatible with Windows 10 along with Office 365, Xero and MYOB, which are all running in Windows 10.
Her advice to clinics planning to explore Windows 10 is to ensure staff take some time to get to know the new OS so they don't feel frustrated with using the new layout.
“It is intuitive and easy to work with,” she said. “Do not be concerned if you are jumping from Windows 7 to Windows 10.”
Best Practice Software chief commercial officer Craig Hodges said his team had put the software through initial installation and basic functionality testing on the Windows 10 preview editions, but the company won't be making a release available to coincide with the Windows 10 release on July 29.
“However, we are working towards future updates which will aim to provide compatibility with Windows 8, 8.1 and Windows 10,” Mr Hodges said.
He said his advice to users of Best Practice is that changing operating systems in a business environment should always be carefully planned and preferably tested prior to implementation.
“Whole system upgrades are challenging and practices should consider engaging with trained IT professionals to provide back-up, upgrade and migration advice,” he said.
Mr Hodges said feedback had shown that the return of the Start menu may be a big attraction to Windows users who have been holding off upgrading their systems to the Windows 8.
Other features to look forward to include Snap Assist, he said.
“With the uptake of widescreen and touch functionality, we think users will enjoy Snap Assist where you can instantly snap different windows to sections of the monitor.
“[You can] flick the waiting room window to the left and the appointment book to the right of the screen.”
Windows 10 will be released on July 29 as a free download for Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 users.
Posted in Australian eHealth