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Windows enterprises will stick with XP

Windows Vista Service Pack 1 is here, but many IT managers see Vista as a step back. For that matter, some managers aren't so hot on XP SP3 either.

CHICAGO - Windows Vista SP1 offers fixes for defrag and backup issues and minimizes some of the operating system's annoying features – the user account control. But even with these changes, IT managers are not warming up to Microsoft's new desktop OS.

Many Windows shops will stretch the life of XP with XP SP3,

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which Microsoft has been releasing in bits, the latest of which is available here as an RC 2 refresh. The official XP SP3 download is due in the first half of 2008, Microsoft has said.

While end users may be more likely to adopt new OS technology, IT managers tend to stick with what works for as long as possible. IT managers attending a TechTarget-sponsored event on Vista migration, led by author and Windows expert Mark Minasi, were asked about their own plans to migrate to Vista.

"If I felt Vista [SP1] introduced any improvements over XP, I would consider moving to it, but from what I've heard there isn't any real improvement," said Steve Cook, systems manager with communications services firm Black Dot in Crystal Lake, Ill.

James J. Beres & Associates Inc., a civil engineering firm in Chicago, has loaded Vista onto four machines. Jeff Ziegler, vice president, has had to downgrade some applications to make them run on Vista. For example, he had to downgrade from Symantec Corp.'s Endpoint Protection version 11 to version 10.2.

Lacking third-party support

But is the problem one of Microsoft's OS or is it really about compatibility issues with other applications and trouble with drivers?

"Automatically people are saying this OS doesn't work when something comes up, but you really have to question what other vendors are doing to make their [software] work with the new OS," Minasi said.

He said he predicted that many Windows shops will stick with XP for the next three or four years. "Why would [IT shops] bother to upgrade when they've been through all the wear and tear of XP SP2, which was really an OS upgrade, although Vista SP1 does address some of the stuff that was missed in Vista when it was released," said Minasi.

Those who have tested Vista say at least 2 gigs are needed on a PC, but to really make applications run smoothly, some IT managers say you really need 4 gigs. That sort of hardware upgrade cuts into the IT budget.

"Cost-wise, Vista is a big move," said James Adgate, compliance analyst with Aon Corp. in Randolph, Ill., which has about 40,000 users. Adgate predicts it will be at least two years before Aon upgrades to Vista. The move will likely be hastened by the need to take advantage of features in Windows Server 2008 that require a Vista client.

Other IT managers shared his sentiment.

As for XP SP3, IT managers are unsure of the advantages of upgrading. "Other than being able to use NAP [network access protection], I don't see an imminent need to go to XP SP3," said Rodney Duckworth, with the information systems group of the American Bar Association in Chicago. "Other than the roll up of fixes, we're pretty happy with XP as it is."

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