Users slow to upgrade Windows

Many corporate users of Microsoft's Windows operating systems are refusing to disrupt their upgrade cycles to keep up with the...

Many corporate users of Microsoft's Windows operating systems are refusing to disrupt their upgrade cycles to keep up with the software maker's cycle of version releases.

Some are even considering abandoning the server operating system because of constant upgrades, according to a new survey by IDC.

IDC surveyed more than 300 IT managers known to be Windows NT or Windows 2000 users.

The survey found Windows users were in no hurry to roll out Windows XP for desktops or the forthcoming server software release, Windows .Net Server. Cost and the technical burden of upgrading computer systems were cited as reasons for not upgrading. IDC also noted that most customers were still working to get Windows 2000 systems rolled out.

"Users say their movement to Microsoft's latest operating systems will proceed on their schedule, not on Microsoft's," said Al Gillen, a systems analyst with IDC.

"Three out of four companies report they are only at the beginning stages of this adoption process with many smaller organisations further along than larger companies," the report noted.

This will be a blow to Microsoft, which is heavily promoting its Licence 6.0 software upgrade strategy to users. The software giant maintains that 30% of users will be better off under the new regime, but critics say that, for some, costs will more than double.

Late last year Laura DiDio, research director at analyst group Giga, said Microsoft was anxious to boost its software licensing revenue stream and warned that only organisations taking an aggressive attitude to Microsoft would save money.

The government's Office of Government Commerce (OGC) is demanding a deal from Microsoft that will offer better value for money than its current contracts. The OGC's chief executive Peter Gershon said Microsoft's new licensing scheme would cost the UK government an extra £60m a year - enough to fund a fully equipped, medium-sized hospital.

The OGC hinted that it might look for alternatives to Microsoft and the IDC survey found 15% of those polled said that demands to keep upgrading corporate systems provided the incentive to Linux and Unix.

"For 15% of customers to be unhappy with a policy Microsoft is setting is not a good sign," said Gillen.

Among the customers surveyed who are upgrading to Windows 2000, IDC found that Microsoft's directory services software, Active Directory, was proving a drag on the upgrade process. The survey found 36% of respondents had delayed Windows 2000 roll-outs because of the difficulties associated with implementing Active Directory.

"Plans to use Active Directory are extremely high. The problem is that actually doing it is still sometimes difficult and time consuming," Gillen said

IDC found that corporate customers, as expected, were cautiously upgrading to Windows XP, with many waiting for the desktop operating system to become more stable.

Microsoft has already released a patch for a major hole in the operating system that left users vulnerable to hackers. "Business users typically have concerns about a new Microsoft product," Gillen said. "They want to wait for those things to happen and get fixed."

Giga: be ready to call Microsoft's bluff >>

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