Channel still divided on Vista appeal

Channel still divided on Vista appeal

Almost nine months after launch, Windows Vista is still drawing mixed opinions from local resellers that deploy the operating system. Even those that are supportive are often dealing with largely reluctant customers. Dimension Data general manager for Microsoft solutions, David Hanrahan, said its deployments to mid-market and large customers were mostly running smoothly. More customers were now asking about moving to Vista, he said, and Microsoft was offering plenty of deployment guidance.

Vista clearly had genuine benefits for customers in terms of security and system management, he said. Even though some people found the additional security features annoying, the reality was that they did protect machines and networks better.

Despite his positive review, Hanrahan said DiData wasn't seeing mass deployment even at the enterprise level. Instead, customers were opting for hybrid implementations, with a mix of XP and Vista machines.

"We're not seeing wholesale migration to Vista but we are seeing pockets around desktop deployment," he said. "We've seen four complete migrations."

Hanrahan said he thought Vista had been represented as being more difficult to deploy and use than it actually was. "In the mid-market and enterprises, absolutely, the biggest issue is the perception that Vista is a big issue to deploy. We're not seeing that at all," he said. Meanwhile, other Microsoft partners are refusing to sell Vista. One Sydney reseller, who requested anonymity, said it had been a nightmare. "We refuse to sell Windows Vista on any of the 64-bit platforms at this time. We do not have a single business client who has had a trouble-free Vista installation," he said.

It was particularly embarrassing, he recalled, when selling a brand-new business network complete with workstations and server only to find that Vista didn't work with the brand-new top-of-the-range HP laser printer.

Some users had ended up replacing all peripherals just to get Vista compatibility, he claimed, and calls to Microsoft had not helped.

"Even after we had established that the 64-bit system just plain didn't work and needed debugging, we were told there was no refund and [Microsoft] basically fobbed us off," he said.

The reseller had been left with business machines that wouldn't turn on or off properly, had problems with the RAID array and numerous driver issues. What's more, they wouldn't run various applications or connect to a wireless network, he said. Director of Melbourne solution provider Kiandra, Cameron Brookes, said he was still waiting before venturing into Vista waters. "Currently, we do not deploy Vista to any of our clients due to compatibility issues. We generally wait a little while [after a new release] for issues to be ironed out," he said.

Kiandra would likely wait another 3-6 months before it bedded down significant Vista implementations, Brookes said.

Microsoft partner strategy and marketing team manager, Nick Mayhew, said there had been some compatibility issues with Vista. However, he said the vendor was working hard to address them.

"That runs the gamut from 35,000 tests per week of the top consumer and enterprise apps to deep engineering engagement with our partners on Microsoft campuses around the world," he said. "As of July 2007, Vista supported nearly two million devices." Mayhew said Microsoft recognised that some applications and drivers hadn't been up to date when Vista was launched.

"We do believe, though, that Windows Vista is the highest quality, most secure and most broadly supported operating system we've ever released," he said.

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