Microsoft’s latest operating system Windows 7 has been out for more than a year, but Australia’s Federal Parliament will ignore the release in the short term and is instead in the process of upgrading to its much-maligned predecessor, Windows Vista.
In unrelated tender documents, the Department of Parliamentary Services, which provides IT services to the nation’s Federal politicians, their staff and employees of the parliament itself, said it was “partway” through upgrading its approximately 3,900 workstations from Windows XP to Vista Service Pack 1.
The department’s desktop fleet consists of Compaq EVO, HP DC7100, Acer Veriton and Dell Optiplex machines, including laptops used by politicians. Parliament didn’t give a reason for its decision to pick Vista instead of Windows 7.
Windows Vista was broadly ignored by all but a few large Australian organisations, with most choosing to keep running the long-lived Windows XP platform instead of upgrading to an operating system which had suffered a problematic development cycle.
A number of features promised for Vista didn’t make it into the end release, and reviewers pinioned Microsoft for stability and driver problems in the platform.
However, there have been several notable installations of Vista in the Federal Government.
The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, for example, became one of the first organisations in Australia known to have deployed Vista in its 2007 rollout to about 5500 machines, upgrading from Windows 2000 at the time. In early 2009, the agency stipulated it had no plans to upgrade to Windows 7.
And the Department of Finance and Deregulation, which houses the Federal Government’s peak IT agency, the Australian Government Information Management Office, deployed Windows Vista Service Pack 2 to its 1870 desktop PCs and laptops in late 2009, as Windows 7 itself was released.
Other agencies, however, decided to wait for Windows 7. In April 2009 Centrelink confirmed it had been testing the early versions of Windows 7 and had the impression that they showed a significant improvement over the performance and quality of Vista. The agency at the time confirmed long-term plans to shift off Windows XP and onto Windows 7.
Vista was initially released in January 2007. Two years later, analyst firm Forrester released a report showing that Vista was powering just below 10 per cent of all PCs within enterprises in the US. At the time the analyst firm noted “considerable interest” in Windows 7, slated to be released later that year.