Windows 7 for the Legal Profession – My New ABA Journal Tech Column

My latest technology column for the ABA Journal is out. It’s called “Lucky No. 7?” and it takes a practical look about how to think about moving to Windows 7. Or not.
I leave the work of writing an actual software review of Windows 7 to others. I’m more interested in helping people get prepared and make a good decision about what they will want to do.
One of the most interesting developments in legal technology over the past few years is the way law firms decided to stay with Windows XP and not upgrade to Windows Vista. Even though Vista was Microsoft’s most controversial operating system release, the refusal of most lawyers to move away from Windows XP has left them in the interesting positon of considering leap-frogging Windows Vista and moving directly to Windows 7. As the column points out, this “skip” upgrade is the most difficult one to make.
In the column, I outline my approach to moving to new operating systems. In a nutshell, I don’t like to upgrade the OS of computers I use on a regular basis – I definitely prefer to move to a new OS by buying a new computer with it pre-loaded. There are lots of good reasons for that, and that’s my best advice for moving to Windows 7.
I offer in the column some useful resources, tips and suggestions. My conclusion is that, probably sooner than later, you’ll be moving to WIndows 7, which really does seem to be having a smooth rollout, if you stay in the Windows world. This is especially true if you are in the market for a new computer.
The money quote:

My perspective on operating systems is that they are simply platforms for running what I really care about—applications. The more transparent and unobtrusive the operating system is, the better I like it. And Microsoft seems to have succeeded in making Windows a more transparent operating system than ever before.
Also, the release of Windows 7 has raised the question of whether we are seeing the last major desktop operating system release. As people use the Internet for more applications, as in “software as a service” or cloud computing, the browser becomes the most important software on a computer. And browsers run on any operating system. Meanwhile, smartphones have also become an important computing platform.

I actually wrote the column a few months ago, and I’m pleased that events since I wrote the article have more or less confirmed what I wrote at the time. I was a little nervous about that.
If you are thiniking about Windows 7 for yourself or your firm, I recommend that you check out my new column as a starting point. I can also recommend a podcast on WIndows 7 that Tom Mighell and I recorded a few months ago.
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  1. Joe Dashiell says

    I agree with you that with W7 the best approach is to start with a new system pre-installed with W7. However it still requires a considerable amount of time to reconfigure.
    Microsoft says “use our Easy Transfer Wizard” tool but that takes a long time to transfer your files and setting,and NOT your applications or printer drivers. Pinter drivers will likely need to be updated from the manufacturer to work within W7. And some applications will need to be upgraded also. AND even some will not work easily at all, despite the XP Mode that is offered.
    I had a bear of a time getting Timeslips 2010 to work. MS says on their wev site that TS 2010 is W7 compatible, yet TS supprt says “we haven’t tested it yet” In other words you’re on your own! (BTW I reinstalled without the TSTimer feature to solve the install issue)
    In all after starting the new machine with Wy, reinstalling files and settings and reinstalling printers and applications, it took 4 hours per machine at a minimum. Luckily this is a small office of 5 independent users. Otherwise, imaging would be required to handle a larger scale office transition.