IT managers share Windows Vista install plans

A SearchWinIT.com online survey shows IT managers' Vista migration plans hampered by more than just application compatibility concerns.

Few Windows shops had plans for Windows Vista migrations in 2007, and it appears that there may also be little interest well into next year.

Of more than 800 responses from IT managers to an online survey conducted by SearchWinIT.com, 37% said they had no plans whatsoever in place to install Vista, while 8% said they would begin adding the new desktop OS in the first quarter of 2008, and 9% expect to begin the upgrade in Q2 2008.

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Another 11% said a Windows Vista upgrade would begin in 2009 or later.

Application compatibility was the primary concern for the IT shops, with 55% citing it as the biggest Vista upgrade issue. This was in line with the runner-up concern, third-party application support, which 48% said is stalling their migration plans.

Microsoft is making headway in both areas, said Shanen Boettcher, general manager of product management in Microsoft's Windows client group. According to Boettcher, 90 of the top enterprise applications are up and running on Vista, and 2,100 applications are Vista certified [meaning compatible]. And the operating system supports more than 2.5 million devices, he said.

"We've really seen support from the vendor community. Combine that with customer feedback [and] it really helps us focus on the applications that are used most and where we need to move them forward for deployments," Boettcher said.

Customers, particularly smaller ones, are starting to turn the corner in terms of moving beyond evaluation to installation, he said.

Many large customers, however, are still in the planning phase, said Boettcher, citing a recent study by Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, Mass., that estimates that most enterprises are still testing Vista out, but a third of them plan to install Vista by mid-2008.

Some heads begin to turn

Using Microsoft hardware assessment tools, some customers are finding that more machines are ready for an OS upgrade than they previously thought, Boettcher said.

"We're seeing customers that manually went around to check which machines were ready for an upgrade who found that they would have to upgrade [the resources of] half of their machines," he said. "When they went back using our automated hardware assessment tool, they found that many, many more machines were actually ready for an [OS] upgrade."

Hardware compatibility, or the question of whether their current machines could support a Vista upgrade, was an issue for 45% of the respondents.

"A move to Vista is pretty hardware sensitive," said Michael Cherry, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, a consulting firm in Kirkland, Wash. "I don't think many [IT shops] are looking at existing hardware for a Vista upgrade. Most will get the OS on new hardware purchased with Vista."

IT shops today tend to wait for the first service pack of a new operating system before migrating, Cherry said. Windows Vista SP1 is due out in the first quarter of 2008, which coincides with the release of Windows Server 2008.

The timing may cause some Windows shops to move to the new server OS before Vista because upgrading servers is less disruptive to an organization than new client installations, Cherry said.

User learning curves, hardware costs and interoperability with Windows XP or Windows 2000 were also cited as Vista upgrade concerns by IT managers responding to the survey.

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