Juan Rodriguez's customers are downloading Windows Server 2008 Beta 3 to give it a test drive, but they are in no rush to move to the new server operating system or to Vista either.
Windows Server 2003 remains the top selling item at his company, Integrated Digital Technologies Corp. in Pasadena, Calif. – out of all the Microsoft products his company sells, said Rodriguez, who is the company's CEO.
"Customers today are a little more cautious," said Rodriguez while attending the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Denver this week. "They're willing to wait until a technology is proven, like with Vista they're waiting for the Service Pack."
Bill Barmes, a small business specialist with Microsoft partner CompNet Systems Inc. in Boise, Idaho, said he is encouraging IT shops to take a conservative approach with Vista.
"I'm not pushing Vista to our customers because there are issues with the OS that aren't productive in the security area," Barmes said. "The allow-not allow [security prompt feature] coming up 50 times a day is not something they want to deal with."
The training classes spawning the most demand at Xpertise Training Ltd. in Altrincham, Manchester, U.K., appear to coincide with the buying trends Rodriguez is seeing.
Enterprises are sending their IT staffs in for training in Visual Studio Team Suite and Exchange Server 2007, but Windows Server 2003 remains a steady favorite. What customers are not being trained on is also telling.
"There is no massive explosion around Vista -- a steady stream, but it's not that popular," said Gary Duffield, chief learning architect at Xpertise. "Back when Windows NT switched to 2000 and on the server side 2000 to 2003 there was a quick transition. I'm not seeing that quick transition now to Vista."
Lack of compatibility with third-party applications is what's keeping IT shops away from Vista, said Chan Hettiarachchi, network administrator with SDN Computer Consultants in Jacksonville, Fla.
But those same IT shops can't seem to get enough of Microsoft's SharePoint collaborative platform, said several Microsoft partners. In many cases, IT shops are using SharePoint to consolidate collaboration and communication systems or even create central repositories of Excel spreadsheets so everyone in the company is literally on the same page.
"SharePoint does what a lot of other applications can do, but it's all in one," said Samantha Ferrie, sales manager with Microsoft partner Ettain Group Inc. in Charlotte, N.C. "It can be a document management or project management system or business intelligence system. It's cheaper and easier to use, versus the fact that the earlier version of SharePoint was so bad."
Companies are using SharePoint to consolidate content management and collaboration applications. "They're getting more out of their collaboration environments, gaining efficiencies and leveraging people and resources better with SharePoint," said Todd Folsom, senior manager of Hitachi Consulting Corp.'s Microsoft alliance.