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Unshackle yourself from the last millennium.

Are you or your clients still using older versions of Microsoft (MS) Windows--versions like 95 or 98? If so, you are not alone.

AssetMetrix surveyed 670 corporations that had more than 320,000 computers in use. Surprisingly, 12.5 percent still used Windows 98 and 14.7 percent still used Windows 95--a combined total 27+ percent representing more than 87,000 computers. In addition, 80 percent of companies surveyed say that they still had one or more computers running either Windows 95 or 98. Finally, the number that is truly stunning is that IDC estimates there are still 79 million users running Windows 95 or 98.

Why are this many people still using software that is five to 10 years old? The answer is probably because it "works" and these people understand the software they use. Another answer may be because they do not want to jump into the upgrade game that has consumers upgrading software and hardware on a regular basis. I can relate to this as someone who regularly upgrades much of my software.

A number of questions must be addressed by these late adapters. First is the question of cost. Chances are that the computers running the Windows 95 and 98 operating versions are at least three years old. During that time, hardware prices have dropped tremendously. The functions and features costing more than $2,000 back then now come with a price tag below $1,000. New hardware also comes installed with new operating systems, and there are a number of choices out there--including Windows XP and 2000 versions from Microsoft, as well as others like Linux that were not viable alternatives for this space just a few years ago.

While most new hardware runs older applications faster, is it a good strategy to upgrade the car without upgrading the driver? Probably not. Just as hardware advanced at a reduced price, software also improved (although without the corresponding reductions of cost). Software developers have matured and know how to develop solid software that is user friendly. Many vendors and applications share common development philosophies resulting in more applications that are easily used with short learning curves.


As proficient as you may be with your older application, I suggest that you are at a competitive disadvantage by not upgrading your application software. Newer software is generally better at importing and exporting data, something that may be important to a client or prospective client. There are many qualified professionals available. What does it say to a client when their practitioner is not technically current?

As the new year approaches, now is the time to look at your technology situation that will lead you through this coming tax season. Newer hardware, operating systems and software (along with the proper training) can make you more productive, efficient, flexible and profitable! It is hard to raise rates in a difficult and saturated market.

Expanding profits by bringing in additional help also can be difficult and expensive. Many of the people hired are younger and relatively new graduates. Given the choice, these workers will choose a work environment that is current and offers them the chance to stay up to date in technology. It is expensive to train help. Why not make the investment in newer systems and applications that show your clients that you do the same thing you recommend to them--invest in your business.

There is still time to plan for new technology and implement the plan prior to tax season. While you may have some resistance if you are still using a 10-year-old operating system, does the additional productivity and time offered through newer technology leave you any choice but to join in the 21st Century?

Rick Richardson, CPA.CTTP is CEO and founder of Richardson Media & Technologies, LLC. Contact him at
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Title Annotation:surveys of computers in use by companies
Author:Richardson, Rick
Publication:The National Public Accountant
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 1, 2004
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