New Windows generation raises same old IT challenges

Vista, Office System 2007 and Exchange Server 2007 are slated for delivery this month. But for enterprises, these platforms will mean lots of time and work for years to come.

When IT shops get their hands on Windows Vista, Office System 2007 and Exchange Server 2007 later this month, managers will be faced with the challenge of getting their corporations to invest in upgrades.

The date for the official product launch for volume customers is Nov. 30. Before IT managers can consider a rollout, though, they will need to plan the upgrade and consider user training and new hardware requirements.

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Just how fast corporate shops upgrade to these new software versions depends on how compelling they think the new features are. Microsoft has made improvements to user account control, search, deployment and security. Whether it's enough to push corporations to upgrade remains to be seen, experts say.

Not all customers have been suitably impressed with the new security additions to make a quick change. "The enhanced security model is great, but we've been on XP so long we've got workarounds," said Mike MacNeill, director of technical operations at Cross Country Healthcare Inc. in Boca Raton, Fla.

"Upgrading desktops is going to require a lot of work to certify all the applications work," MacNeill said. "Once we do all of that, we'll probably run Vista on newly purchased machines, but we're not going to install it across the enterprise."

Other users can't justify moving up to Vista because their migrations to XP are too recent. "It means an upgrade for some of our hardware and, at this point, there is nothing compelling for me about Vista," said Steve Perry, IT director at Costello & Sons Insurance Brokers Inc., San Rafael, Calif.

Perry's company just moved to XP a year and a half ago because Windows 2000 had served its needs so well. Another factor Perry must consider is making sure his third-party applications are compatible with Vista, which will take some time.

Margie Semilof contributed to this story.

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