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Compatibility issues factor into IT strategies

Upgrading operating systems for office networks may have compatibility implications for printers and other peripherals.

Upgrading operating systems for office networks may have compatibility implications for printers and other peripherals.

In a perfect world, decisions about IT solutions would be quick and easy. Integration would be seamless and company operations would never be interrupted.

Unfortunately for small and midsize businesses (SMBs), we don't live in a perfect world. New operating systems mean compatibility issues with hardware and existing software packages. Deployments take time, especially when you're upgrading an entire company network.

Dell recently released a compatibility list to show which of its printers and multi-purpose devices would work with either Windows 8 or RT. According to the list, only 30 out of 74 laser printers and two out of 36 inkjets are supported by the new mobile OS based on ARM processors, which will power various tablets such as the Surface, set to hit store shelves next week. Meanwhile, 43 of the total 110 printers listed by Dell will not support Windows 8 or RT.

Hewlett-Packard release its own list of 200 devices, only 34 of which will be fully supported by Windows RT, while 83 will offer limited support, meaning not all of a product's features will be available through the operating system.

IT strategies are not designed with a paint-by-numbers approach. They take careful planning and consideration. Upgrading to a new operating system and then finding out that none of your printers work will cause a lot of headaches. The same goes for critical software packages a company relies on becoming inoperable when one needs them most.

While this should not scare SMBs away from embracing new technologies and IT solutions, it should make clear the need for proper planning. With quality SMB IT support, decision-makers can be armed with the knowledge they need to make transitions as seamless as possible.

A better OS might make it worth buying new printers, but you want to know that in advance, rather than getting suckerpunched when it hurts most. Maybe Windows RT compatibility issues would make a company better off waiting a few months for the intel-based Surface Pro models.

Like the line from the classic 1980s cartoon "G.I. Joe" says, "Knowing is half the battle."