IT directors have been urged to start fully evaluating Vista, Microsoft’s next-generation operating system, and look at related issues like training and integration of other applications, to ensure companies planning to upgrade in 2007 or 2008 do not come unstuck.
After a long wait, Microsoft finally confirmed last week that Windows Vista will be available to business users, along with Office 2007 and Exchange Server 2007, from 30 November.
The availability of the next Windows desktop operating system comes at a time when CIOs are assessing the cost of support of Windows 2000 and the value of Microsoft’s Software Assurance licensing scheme.
Gartner research vice-president Michael Silver said an 18-month evaluation timeframe was realistic, as it would take many organisations that length of time to test applications and to get their other software suppliers to support applications, build images and run pilots.
But Silver added that, since the lead time was a necessity for most, organisations that ignored Vista until 2008 would not be ready to deploy it until 2010.
The enterprise version of the operating system includes new hardware security, virtualisation, searching and graphical features, and analysts warned it would require preparation and training before businesses could consider rolling it out.
Those most likely to become early adopters include volume licence holders of Microsoft’s Software Assurance scheme, who are first in line for the new system and due to get an exclusive version called Windows Vista Enterprise.
But even for those with Software Assurance, analysts said 18 months would be necessary for most firms to migrate to Vista with any confidence.
Forrester Research’s vice-president and research director Simon Yates said, “Many firms are reluctant to jump on board with the new operating system immediately. Most do not want to enter into yet another major PC operating system upgrade cycle, and would prefer to stick with Windows XP as a single, stable version of Windows that meets most of their end-user application needs.”
Yates said Microsoft had made efforts to tackle the phenomenon of “upgrade apathy” by including features to make Vista more modular and manageable, but he said he still expected a trickle rather than a rush of early adopters.
Richard Edwards, senior research analyst at Butler Group, said, “I think, as always, those that can wait will wait.
“We always recommend that you design your IT strategy around your business requirements. Because of this, adopting Office 2007 may well come slightly higher on the list than Vista for both IT and business heads. The reason is that, while it is still quite difficult to spot the real business value, it is easier to see the immediate value in Office than in Vista.”
Read article: Vista's business benefits