To Vista or not to Vista? If that’s the question, the answer is money. Microsoft would really, really like IT shops to quit waffling and start migrating to the latest version of Windows. After all, Vista has been out for years now. It’s stable. It’s secure. The new software has even been paid for already under many volume licences.
But even when that’s true, the answer is still money. It costs money to upgrade hardware. And to rebuild user desktops. And to retrain users. And to fi eld a lot more help desk calls.
After two years, most big IT shops have already spent money testing important applications to make sure they’ll run on Vista. But nobody who’s still waiting has launched projects to fix custom apps that didn’t pass the test. Those fix-up projects will cost money.
And, at most companies, now is not a good time to ask for that money. For deploying a new PC operating system? What’s wrong with the old one? No, what’s really wrong with the old one – wrong enough that we can’t get by without an upgrade this year?
Then there’s the problem of risk – which also translates into money.
Things can go wrong with software, and users are IT’s fi rst line of defence against bugs, slowdowns, crashes or simply very bad ideas. Users find ways around the problems and keep doing their jobs. The more familiar the software is, the better users are at that.
But a new operating system makes it harder for users to fi gure out successful work-arounds. Besides, every user department is shorthanded and under pressure. There’s no time for solving software problems. Lost time means lost productivity and could mean lost sales or unhappy customers. In other words, lost money.
What about the cost of keeping creaky old Windows XP running? Yes, that’s money too. But even if that’s as expensive as upgrading – which it almost certainly isn’t – a “one more year with XP” approach doesn’t require a budget line item for the upgrade. Nobody has to convince the CFO to keep that old rust-bucket XP running. Don’t laugh – it’s paid for.
For Microsoft, it’s about money too. Whether or not the rumours are true that Windows 7 will arrive by the end of 2009, Microsoft needs to turn the crank on sales right now. And right now, Vista is the only game Microsoft has.
But for IT managers, it’s not the only game in town.