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The latest slippage in availability of Windows Vista may have come as a blow to manufacturers and retailers hoping to sell PCs to consumers in the run up to Christmas 2006, but IT pros in the business sector are probably not going to lose much sleep over it.

In a recent Reg Reader Study, only 12 per cent of respondents said they would consider adoption this latest addition to the Windows lineage in the first year of its release. The most commonly cited reasons for this lack of enthusiasm were:

1. Questionable cost / benefit
2. Software and/or hardware compatibility
3. Stability and/or security of early releases

This list was derived from analysis of over 2,600 freeform responses in which readers expressed themselves openly on the practical considerations associated with Vista adoption. The Feedback makes interesting reading and here are a few examples to provide a flavour of the comments we received:

“Vista will need to have compelling IT management - cost reduction advantages for us to consider dropping our installed base of XP Pro - it ain’t broke…, and we don't wanna *go* broke with unnecessary technology.”

“Roll out to 100,000 user machines of XP has only just completed, and the cost is simply way too high to start all over again”.

“We have over 300 separate applications to support, and each must be tested in a multi-user environment”.

“As with any newly released operating system, and especially with Microsoft, I'd prefer to have the bleeding edge punters be the meat-shield for the security holes and malware that is sure to follow the Vista launch”.

“A new OS upgrade of this magnitude is -always- riddled with bugs (features!) and security issues. I prefer to give the software producer at least a year to make repairs. Even waiting, perhaps, until the release of the first Service Pack, depending on global opinion and results.”

Interestingly, despite the anticipated hassle and cost, there is little indication from the feedback that the prospect of yet another major Windows migration will push organisations to alternatives such as Desktop Linux or Max OS X. The assumption by the majority appears to be that adoption of Vista is ultimately inevitable, it’s just that the longer you wait, the lower the risk and pain will be.

From a Microsoft perspective, given its aggressive plans for Vista rollout, it will be necessary to break through this mindset if it wants to accelerate activity. Addressing uncertainties around compatibility, security and stability of early releases is an important part of this, but is probably not going to be enough by itself.

Against the background of already stretched IT budgets and resources, customers need more compelling reasons to invest than they currently perceive. The discussion must therefore move beyond the simple TCO case we have been hearing to date and deal more effectively with the tangible business benefits of Vista as an enabler of the next generation desktop - not just in abstract terms, but in the context of specific business and user scenarios that are meaningful to customers.

It remains to be seen if Microsoft can do enough of this to stimulate earlier uptake of Vista in the business sector compared to previous Windows releases.

The full research report in PDF format of the study referred to in this article may be accessed here. ®

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