One would hope that in this day and age most people have a fair idea of whether an application is adding value to the business. But what is the intrinsic value of a new operating system?
Windows Vista, the next release of the Windows desktop operating system, is already on the Microsoft price list. By the end of the month, business users will be able to install it.
Most have already gone through a major Windows update. In September 2004, Microsoft insisted that every XP enterprise user update the operating system to the Service Pack 2 release - a task involving extensive testing for many organisations.
Promising vast improvements to the original XP security architecture, the update was regarded by many as almost as complex as installing a new operating system. Now, just two years on, users are being asked to migrate again.
Microsoft says Vista will be "at the heart of any competitive organisation's IT investment". It claims Vista will empower staff to work more efficiently, collaborate easily, lower IT management costs and harden IT security.
Windows XP may not be the nirvana of desktop operating systems, but it is fairly mature, proven and well-understood technology. Upgrading a desktop operating system can be risky, expensive and does not always fit with a firm's desktop strategy. It can require end-user training and has the potential to disrupt a stable PC platform.
Microsoft appears to be tempting users to part with large sums of money with tantalising intangibles like those listed above. IT directors will need to ensure that the concrete benefits on offer match their real business needs before they part with their cash.Comment on this article: firstname.lastname@example.org