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A few days ago, Microsoft leaked "Windows Blue", the latest version of the Windows operating system - due for release later this year. It still has the traditional Windows Desktop, but analysts noted that Microsoft is moving key system components into the "Metro" or "Modern" interface.
What this mean? As industry experts have predicted, Microsoft is preparing to eliminate the familiar, useful, "everyday" Desktop entirely, in favor of the "Modern" interface. This is despite overwhelming user resentment for the new user interface - and more importantly - despite a lack of compatibility with 25 years of desktop Windows applications.
For hard-core geeks, this isn't a problem, but for agents it is. Despite a transition to web-based software for many common applications, real estate still relies heavily on Word Docs & legacy applications for many in-house business activities - such as financial & credit apps.
Real estate agents aren't alone: most businesses use a collection of desktop & web-applications these days, and since Microsoft gave no warning about plans to eliminate the desktop, new desktop apps appear all the time (or maybe this is the warning).
What does this mean for the agent? It might not be as bad as you think: first, you can hang on to your older version of Windows for at least a couple of years, and second, even if you do upgrade to "post-desktop" Windows, it's likely that Microsoft will provide you with support for ALL your MS-Office documents, which they're pushing into their "Office 365" web-based platform.
Where it WILL hurt you is with legacy applications - and depending on which brokerage you work for, that might be painful indeed. Smaller, independent real-estate companies may have difficulty with the cost & complexity of moving from established desktop software systems to web-based platforms, especially if they have years of data stored in a format that only a desktop system can access.
What are my alternatives? Since founding the BPO Automation Group in 2009, I've worked with thousands of agents around the USA, and I've found that many of you are switching to Mac systems - which definitely helps, but may still cause issues. The reason is that every Mac-using Agent I've met ALSO seems to have a virtual Windows desktop on their machine for the legacy Windows Desktop apps that nobody can live without (even though we all hate them).
Before running out to buy a Mac, you should ALSO take a look at Google Chromebooks, which are a low-priced alternative to Windows that supports all the web-based apps you're used to. If you're a Gmail or Google Docs user, you should DEFINITELY take a look at buying a Chromebook, since it basically was built for the Google Apps you're already using. These typically sell for $250 to $400 each, so they cost less than a laptop & might be worth the investment (depending on your needs).
Why get rid of the desktop? It seems like an incredibly bad business decision to get rid of the desktop - at least until you realize that the PC market is dying, and software is all going mobile. This week, Dell's directors forecast a grim market for the future of the PC in..., and Microsoft's move towards mobile devices is their attempt to remain relevant in a "post-PC world".
Feeling Confused? If you're struggling to remain relevant in a post-PC real-estate industry, check out Harris Real Estate University's Real-Estate Technology Designation (RTD) program, which address the role of technology in modern real-estate, with specific applications for how you can apply technology to grow your business. It teaches you proven, real-world techniques where you can apply technology to make money now.