Now more than a year out of the business gate, Microsofts Vista operating system is having trouble making friends in the exact place it needs them the most—the IT department.
When asked, rather than express excitement over Vistas promised better security, networking features and fancy GUI, IT professionals admit trepidation over the looming upgrade and the trouble it will cause.
"Personally, Im dreading the amount of time itll take to upgrade each machine from a hardware standpoint—adding memory or whatever—and from an operating system upgrade. Its just time consuming," Howard Graylin, a senior technical analyst in Ridgeland, Miss., told eWEEK.
But technology professionals worry about more than the time it will take to actually migrate, but the inevitable difficulties resulting from an, at times, painfully slow user learning curve.
"I also dread the why doesnt it work like this anymore? questions well get from users. My standard answer is, I dont know. Let me ask Bill [Gates] the next time we have lunch and Ill get back to you. Well, the second sentence is said silently," jokes Graylin. "I need to keep my job."
Graylins fears are echoed in a study to be released Nov. 19 in which 90 percent of IT professionals reported that they had concerns about migrating to Vista.
"One thing that weve heard a lot is that there is a big training impact. The shift from Windows 98 to 2000 and then to XP were smoother because the interfaces were more similar," Rob Meinhardt, CEO of KACE, a provider of systems management appliances which commissioned King Research to perform the study.
The study also underscored how little enterprise market penetration Vista had so far: 48 percent of respondents said that they had not deployed Vista in any way and 39 percent had only done so on a few test machines. Less than 1 percent of respondents had fully migrated their organizations over to Vista—the majority of these respondents were from very small companies.
"I think that IT management is uncertain about what issues might arise from running Vista, from training costs to consider to making sure applications are compatible before moving them over. Its a big testing challenge," said Meinhardt.
IT departments are also put off by the costs associated with Vistas performance load and memory requirements, and for many, it is enough to keep them from upgrading altogether, or at least putting it off for another year.
"My company was scheduled to migrate to Vista by the end of 07, but that was before we realized wed have to upgrade or replace 95 percent of our existing hardware. Thats a huge expense especially when you consider that XP is a stable platform… Weve pushed the target date out until the end of 08, but Im not entirely sure well upgrade before then," said Graylin.
Though 44 percent of respondents in the King Research study said they have considered deploying non-Windows operating systems to avoid the Vista migration, the vast majority see a Vista migration as inevitable. Still, most will be waiting until after the scheduled January 2008 Vista SP1 release.
"Most people dont want to be early adopters. There are going to be bugs, and it takes a certain amount of time for any new release to stabilize," said Meinhardt.
Nevertheless, "there is no question that IT is dreading this process. Its one thing when a system is clearly adding value, but its not clear yet. IT would rather be working on projects that have a bigger impact on their businesses."
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