forrester NETWORKWORLD has an interesting article about a new study from Forrester. In a document for “only” $279, Forrester analyst Benjamin Gray recommends not to skip Vista. I didn’t read the study myself because I usually don’t buy papers with unknown length for $279 even if it is from a well-known research company. So I can only rely on what NETWORKWORLD wrote about it.

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Here are the five arguments that speak for upgrading to Vista in your organization according to Forrester:

  1. Switching thousands of users from Windows to another platform (Mac OS, Linux) is not a workable solution for the majority of companies.
  2. Users need to stay current on Microsoft and independent-software-vendor (ISV) support of Windows operating systems.
  3. Probable unavailability of Windows XP after June 30, 2008
  4. Uncertainty around the availability and feature set of Windows 7
  5. Valuable Vista features: security and user enhancements

All five arguments are certainly good reasons not to skip Vista. #1 depends on the size of the company. Those companies who can afford to buy Forrester studies probably will agree.

Staying up-to-date is always a good motivation to upgrade to the latest OS. Actually, it is the most important reason for me. As to my experience, it is only a matter of time until you run into problems with an old operating system. Most IT pros who prefer to wait for Windows 7 think that they can avoid all the problems an upgrade to Vista might pose. However, they forget that to wait too long with an upgrade will also cause problems simply because Microsoft and third party software vendors focus more and more on the new OS. I already experienced a few incidents where an application or a driver didn’t work properly under XP but ran without problems under Vista.

#3 is only a reason for organizations who buy the operating system together with new PCs. For Volume License customers it won’t be a problem to stay with XP for the next 5 years or so.

There has been be a lot of stir about an interview recently where Bill Gates seemed to indicate that Windows 7 might come out already in 2009. Later, Microsoft denied this release date and said that Windows 7 is still slated for 2010. Well, do you remember how often the release date of Windows Vista was postponed? I wouldn’t expect Windows 7 to be released before 2011. There is so little known about Windows 7 that one can hardly base any kind of decision regarding Vista on it. So I fully agree with #4.

The majority of respondents in my poll about Vista adoption voted for the “Wait for Windows 7 option”. I now think that they just wanted to express that Vista is not an option for them now and so they are sticking with XP until some better option comes around the corner. This is a reasonable strategy. However, if Microsoft postpones Windows 7 as often as they usually do with new operating systems, then there could come the day where sticking with Windows XP might turn out as the worst option simply because of compatibility reasons.

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I have been writing a lot about #5 already. So I won’t go into this again. But I still think that the new features of Windows Vista are usually hopelessly underestimated. This is due to the fact that Vista didn’t come with those killer features that many journalists expected. However, what makes Vista such a powerful operating system are the countless tiny improvements. It might take one or two more years until the majority of IT pros will become aware of this fact though.

  1. Jarred Fehr 15 years ago

    Right on. I am almost finished migrating our company to Vista. It staggered how many of my end-users would say, “Are you sure this will work? I’ve heard a lot of bad stuff about Vista.” Of course it will (and has) work. I tested our apps. Granted, a few vendors (ADP and UPS I’m looking at you) won’t have Vista compatible apps until this summer. For those users we’ll just continue on XP. But for most of them Vista is fine.

  2. Gordon Martin 15 years ago

    I’m not quite as optimistic as you about the value of Vista. Although Forrester’s arguments for moving on are valid, they seem rather weak. Should the five best reasons for picking an OS really include “the predecessor is no longer available” or “it’s too hard to switch to something else”? A good OS could inspire better reasons.

    I don’t think people “waiting for Windows 7” in your survey was just a commentary – that really is what they’re doing. I consult to the Canadian federal government. I can tell you that there is absolutely no movement here. I am convinced that my department is absolutely the only one considering Vista. Mind you, government is very slow moving and some just started installing XP a year or two ago…

    I am sure there won’t be a problem for organizations to wait for Windows 7 – however long that might be. Drivers won’t be a problem until the market does finally shift to Vista. If the market stays parked on XP, the vendors will respond appropriately in order to maintain sales. I’m not convinced the market will make that shift to Vista – making a wait for Windows 7 viable.

  3. dibek 15 years ago

    Only 5. represents a viable reason, all other points are basically saying that there is no other alternative from MS.
    It’s really sad that his is the best they could come up with, it tells you that there is something rotten here, it’s rotten from the core, it stinks, but everyone is trying to tell you otherwise.
    Sorry MS, but you’ve outdone your self this time.
    I’ve been using Vista for a while now, and if i wasnt in a development cycle with deadlines i’d migrate back to XP. Not even SP1 managed to make much of a difference.

  4. Gordon, the question is not whether Vista is a good OS or not. The only thing that counts is if there are better options. Since Microsoft doesn’t have any serious competitors on the desktop and since XP will sooner or later be the more problematic choice, Vista will be left as the only reasonable option.
    I agree that there are many organizations who try to stick with an OS for as long as possible. There are certainly cases where this makes sense. However, I think that Vista adoption is advancing faster than many think. Microsoft is certainly exaggerating when say that they sold 100 million Vista licenses, but our web statistics show that the number of Vista machines is growing steadily and at fast rate. Most of them might be privately owned computers. But the bigger the general market share of Vista becomes, the more software and hardware vendors will focus on it. And this will bring the breakthrough for Vista in the corporate environment sooner or later.

    We also should not forget that Windows 7 won’t be a completely new OS. It will just be Vista plus some more compatibility problems. The longer you stick with an old version the more difficult it will be to update to the latest version. This is true for the whole IT business.

    Jarred, you reminded me of our users. Everyone I talked to about Vista was quite sure that Vista is a failure. None of them ever logged on to a Vista machine and most of them have not the slightest idea about operating systems in general. They believe that Vista is a failure because they read it in the newspaper. Those articles were written by journalists who don’t know more about operating systems than their readers. But they do know that nobody will really criticize them if they bash Vista because this is what everybody is doing, anyway. In my view, not Microsoft developers failed, but their marketing. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to say that criticizing Vista is not justified. I have been doing this a lot on this blog. It is just interesting to note that so many who don’t know anything about Windows consider themselves to be Vista experts.

    dibek, if there is no alternative from MS or a competitor why wouldn’t this be a reason to move to Vista? I think I didn’t get your argument.

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