These days, I often read that Vista skeptics are gaining the upper hand. For example this PC World article cites a Patchlink survey according to which 87 percent of businesses would stay with their existing operating system. And Chris Pirillo even believes that "Windows Vista loses users" to the arch-enemy Mac OS.

I agree that for bloggers a Mac is just fine since you only need a web browser. However, if you work with other software than mainstream apps, Windows is most often the only option. The Patchlink survey shows that Windows XP is doing a good job for most companies since all the software they need is running perfectly fine on it. So who needs Vista, then?

Microsoft obviously has a marketing problem. Their "wow campaign" was a complete failure because Vista simply has no obvious wow features and their customers are realizing that now. However, I think there are good reasons to upgrade to Vista even though it doesn't offer any must-have features. Basically, there are two different kinds of arguments. One concerns user-related features and the other one comes from IT management.

I have been working with Vista on my own PCs since the final was out. In the beginning, I also was somewhat disappointed. The user interface looked different, but I couldn't see anything that would improve my productivity. After several months I completely changed my mind. I can't imagine going back to XP anymore. The strange thing is that I can't tell you a concrete reason. I just realize that every time I logon to an XP machine, for example for testing purposes, I realize that something is missing. Sometimes it is the start search box, or the new Windows Explorer with its shortcut section, and sometimes I even miss Aero.

The point is that Vista has countless tiny improvements and this is really a hard one for every marketing professional. How can you list all 2750 new Vista features in an ad? And how can you convince IT journalists to write positive Vista reviews? A heading such as "Windows Explorer now has a shortcut section" does not really attract readers.

The other argument is often neglected in the discussion about Vista. From a system administrator's point of view there is at least one wow feature:
Vista's new imaging technology. I've been writing about it before, so I won't go into it again. This feature certainly simplifies OS deployment tremendously. I think many IT managers are not yet aware of this. Many companies still rely on unattended installations. Since they don't have experience with cloning yet, they can't imagine what advantages this new technology brings for OS deployment.

In my view, this feature is reason enough to move to Vista as soon as possible. You might say that this becomes only relevant when you have to buy new PCs. The force of this argument depends on the size of your organization. Bigger organizations permanently install new workstations. However, they have well-coordinated deployment strategies already. So they just keep on doing what they always did and continue installing Windows XP.

It will certainly make efforts before a big organization can change its deployment strategy and benefit from Vista new capabilities. This also applies to other fields. Software and hardware compatibility issues are another reason why many IT managers shy away from a Vista upgrade. The necessary preparations before a major Vista rollout are certainly enormous. And this explains the results of surveys like the one from Patchlink. I think that many simply underestimated the huge amount of time and energy required to upgrade to a new OS.

Improved security, countless tiny user interface enhancements, and the arguments of tech savvy admins are often not enough reason to convince CIOs to invest in those sumptuous preparations. However, I have no doubt that most companies will finally make this step as soon as they plan a major rollout of new PCs. Thus, we will only see a gradual increase of Vista installations in the next months. And by the way, this is nothing unusual. This is typical for new products from Redmond. It always takes some time until Microsoft's customers are finally convinced.

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I usually belong to those who are quite easily persuaded to use new technology. And even for me, it took several months until I fully embraced Vista. One thing is for sure, though. Those who hope that it is now the time for Apple or even Linux to step into the breach, underestimate Microsoft's staying power. Attendees of a blogger conference might enjoy proudly showing off their stylish, white MacBooks. However, to read into this that "Windows Vista loses users" is a bit far-fetched.

10 Comments
  1. Tom Kikham 15 years ago

    Michael,

    While Vista may have a wonderful deployment method that XP doesn’t, it still doesn’t work. Maybe after SP1 it will be better, but don’t forget this was a bastard child. Way overdue, and lets not forget that the Vista project was begun not once, but twice, and then they still could not get it out the door without cutting features. I dunno, but it seems half-baked to me, and I have been running it for several months myself. I think it is going the way of ME, and it would not surprise me if there is only one service pack and after that, the Vista name will not be used on the next update.

  2. Helen 15 years ago

    I completely agree. I’ve been using Vista at home for 6 months, but still use XP at work, and it’s definitely the little things that I miss in XP. It took a while to grow on me (and it certainly still has problems) but I feel like a lot of the stuff I do is more efficient on Vista; it’s sometimes difficult to put my finger on exactly why, though.

  3. Jim 15 years ago

    I could easily see where the more techie people who use Vista at home might find everything ok for the most part and even be somewhat forgiving where lacking(ie drivers).

    In a support environment though Vista and Microsoft for that matter have been downright horrible in representing themselves effectively in being a leading OS and company for businesses. The lack of documentation was probably the worst ever. What documentation that was done typically talked about beta’s which were different in various areas. The same can be said of Office 2007 as well.

    All I can simply say is that I’m thrilled to see OSX making some inroads even if more of it is in the consumer area and not as much in business/enterprise environments. As it is now if everyone was on even playing fields MS would be left behind in the dust. Very disappointing.

    I can only hope that linux can get more traction as well. I’m not out to see MS fail. I just want to see competition. Competition is what’s good for everyone.

  4. Tom, you’re right. Microsoft cut all the wow features. I think that this is the major reason why so many are disappointed with Vista and why it gets such a bad press. But you really can’t compare it with ME. Vista is surprisingly stable and reliable. It is also the securest OS MS has ever built. They were often accused of focusing too much on features thereby neglecting security and stability. Now, they just did what all the critics were always demanding. But it seems that whatever the Redmond guys do, it is always wrong. But since their revenue is increasing every year, it can’t be so bad what they are doing.

    Helen, it is good to know that there is at least someone who made the same experience. 😉

    Jim, this is the first time I hear that MS didn’t provide enough documentation for Vista. Did you ever check out Technet? I am currently testing Windows Server 2008 and I am overwhelmed by the documentation that is already available. I agree with you that more competition would be desirable. However, I don’t see who could compete with MS in the desktop area. Apple still focuses on style instead of business and Linux has not the slightest chance as long as it doesn’t have a uniform GUI and OSS developers don’t believe that usability comes first and technology only second. But you really can’t blame MS for this.

  5. ebe 15 years ago

    I work as IT System engineer.. I just UPGRADED to xp, from Vista. Why ? the fiability and reliability fiasco are one part, the other are all the uncompatible application (no remote desktops ??!! blah, no Lotus Outlook connector ?).. but mosty, ReadyBoost !! common, on my brand new Dualcor T7200, with 3go of RAM, as I do a LOT of Vmware labs and presentation, Vista just eat 1.2 Go of RAM !! Common, for pitty performance, Crash, and all the fiasco Vista is about (and believe me, it hurt me saying this, and I was the last one to upgrade to XP), eating 1.2 Go of RAM !

    Back to XP, 260Mo Ram at boot, it’s just Like I have back 1go of ram for my VM; all this with 2x the overall performance. !!

  6. ebe 15 years ago

    “Why ? the fiability and reliability fiasco are one part”

    I wished to say
    The Fiability/reliability and Performance Fiasco,,

    Perofmance fiasco is about 200ko max of network file transfert between Vista and anything else not VISTA, file extraction etc.. How damn could something like that pass the Beta ?!! It’s just incredible.

    Reliability is about waiting more and more for application to come back active..

    but these time, we^’re oftenly impressed by MS (like the xbox360 hardware Fiasco, Office 2007 Plugin’s fiasco, etc..)

    Frankly, I’m a hugh Pro-MS, from the NT4 days, but Vista is a complete fiasco, for any one with open-mind and eye. And again, I’m quite the Ms-Fanboy of my Company!

    My words are to wait for SP1, and let MS finish its work on Vista, BDD, WAIK, WDS etc.. all this is interesting for us IT, but it’s a complete mess. And this don’t touch the end-user.

    Today, I recommand to stay with XP, some good deployment solution, a good security solution, and everything is running like Fire, mostly on new hardware. To me Vista si helping linux actually, just saw people Upgrading from Vista to ubuntu with openoffice.. You know, people who bought vista and office 2007, and who don’t want to pay again for XP and office 2003…

    Anyway.. Greetings, and thank you for the web site

  7. Mathieu LJ 15 years ago

    I completly agree with ebe’s comment about windows->linux.

    I just bought a new computer with windows 64bit… Very VERY disapointed,… alot of things that worked fine in XP no longer work,… (ex. I cant connect to my university via WebDav)

    Same thing happend with my fiance. She has next to no computer knowledge and Vista gave her alot of trouble with the unsupported applications. Seeing as her software drivers were not available with XP pro, I intalled OpenSUSE Linux. She loves it and well,… it works.

    Moral of the story is, if you havent gone to Vista yet, WAIT! Vista is not completly ready yet.

    Hopefully ether Microsoft will pollish up their new OS with SP01 or people will start developing a more usefull OS…

  8. ebe, it is normal that a new OS needs more recourses than its predecessor. Of course, an upgrade makes only sense if your hardware is powerful enough. In my view, you need at least 1.5 GB RAM for Vista. As to the help for Linux, I think we should just wait for Microsoft’s next earning report. Then we will know if people are really moving to Ubuntu and Open Office. I wouldn’t count on it.

    Mathieu, congrats to your fiancé. My girl friend would certainly complain all day if I installed Linux on her laptop. Not even Windows Life Messenger is running on SuSE. 😉 But I love SuSE. I just moved this blog to a new OpenSuSE 10.2 server. As to your WebDaV problem. I think it is not Vista that is not yet ready, it is your University that is not yet ready for Vista.

  9. Mathieu LJ 15 years ago

    The way I see it, WebDav is a relatively established protocol, works fine in XP and linux (I havent tryed it on any other platforms). So why whould you make a new OS support only some of the functions of this established system? I would expect a new OS to add functionalities rather than to remove them.

  10. You’re right WebDav is an established protocol. That’s why it is very unlikely that it can’t be used with Vista more than 6 month after its release. Check out this KB articles. Maybe one of them solves your problem. If not, the computer center of your University should be able to find a solution.
    http://support.microsoft.com/?scid=kb%3Ben-us%3B941298&x=18&y=16
    http://support.microsoft.com/?scid=kb%3Ben-us%3B940172&x=12&y=9

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