Will Vista go down in history as the OS that most corporate environments passed over?
Just a few months into Vista’s life cycle and Microsoft is already talking about Windows 7. I cannot help but wonder if Microsoft is talking about Windows 7 about a year earlier than planned, on account of the market’s lukewarm response over Vista.
I’m not an IT manager now, but I have been for many years, in the modern Windows / UNIX era. Were I to contemplate upgrading to Vista now, my thought process would go something like this:
I’m trading an OS (Windows XP) that is known, stable, compatible, predictable, runs on current hardware, and familiar to users…
…for an OS that is new, unknown, stability unproven, incompatible with many things, often requires hardware upgrades, and unfamiliar to users.
So why would I upgrade to Vista? Because I have too many staff and not enough to do? Because I don’t have enough to worry about? Because I have too much slack in my budget and I want to increase my support-per-headcount numbers? Because it’s been too long since the executives hunted me down with torches and pitchforks demanding that I make their systems work better?
And… Vista is memory-hungry, particularly if you use Aero. Forward-thinking companies that are on a three-year PC refresh cycle have one-third to two-thirds of their systems with insufficient memory to run Vista very well, so performance is also an issue. Few corporations are going to do field upgrades of user workstation memory; fewer still will upgrade them to newer systems. IT is too commoditized – especially end user workstations. Vista requires more oomph in user workstations than most companies are willing to provide. By the time companies get their workstations up to the point where they can all take Vista (compatibility and other issues aside), Windows 7 will be out. If I were CIO for a day in any major company, I’d keep my Windows XP and wait. No sense ripping out something that’s not broken, eh Pacha?
I was in a similar dilemma about ten years ago. I ran an IT shop that supported about 500 users. We were Windows desktop, Novell file and print servers. People from headquarters (the parent company with tens of thousands of employees) began to pressure me to change out the Novell environment for Windows NT. My counterargument was simple: Why should I spend thousands of dollars of resources to turn file and print into file and print, especially when users won’t even notice?
So I was able to delay that window dressing change for over two years. Only when Exchange came along was there a viable business case for making the change, and then I did.
Back to the main story. Will Vista join Windows ME on the scrap heap of OSs that companies rejected? Only history will tell. But Microsoft’s coming out early with Windows 7 appears to say, “Vista is yesterday’s news. Look what’s coming next!”
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