Microsoft released a slew of product updates over the past few weeks, but the one IT administrators seem to care the most about is Windows Vista SP1, with many already having rolled out the release candidate for the service pack or planning to do so in the near future.
In addition to the release candidate of the Vista service pack, the software maker has rolled out other updates, including Office 2007 SP1, SharePoint 2007 SP1, Exchange 2007 SP1 and the release candidate for Windows XP SP3.
However, for some IT managers at smaller companies, dealing with all these upgrades at the same time can be overwhelming.
"Evaluating all the service packs at the same time is quite a job for a small business and can overload the IT department, so we attack them in order of importance," Jurgen Altziebler, interactive experience director for CoreBrand New York, told eWEEK. "Office SP1 is a no-brainer, while SharePoint will need time as our portals are highly customized."
To read more about the release candidate for Vista SP1, click here.
However, CoreBrand, which helps companies understand, build, express and measure their corporate brand, is looking forward to the promised LAN/network performance improvements as well as the other enhancements that Vista SP1 is expected to bring.
The company plans to roll out the release candidate for the service pack early in the new year, "depending how my test laptop holds up over the holidays," Altziebler said.
However, other customers, such as Gary Wilhelm, business and financial systems manager at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, have already downloaded the release candidate for SP1 and are running it on test machines to make sure that its internal applications are able to run, and to see if the service pack resolved some of the issues it identified.
"We have also loaded the service pack on a few laptops to test our Avential VPN, Citrix and single sign-on solution. I was also looking forward to the release of SP1 for SharePoint 2007, since we are an early adaptor of SharePoint 2007, Office 2007 and Vista. Rather than apply the individual hot fixes Microsoft released, we made a decision to wait for SP1," Wilhelm said.
Read more here about the early release of Office 2007 SP1.
Collegiate Housing Services, in Indianapolis, which provides housing programs to colleges, universities and post-secondary learning institutions in 27 cities throughout the United States, has not only deployed the Vista SP1 release candidate in its test lab, but also on its production IT machines to see how it behaves in the companys environment.
CHS has about 78 machines currently running Vista, and is keen to roll out the service pack, which it sees as critical as it incorporates a lot of stability and performance improvements, better battery life and sleep/hibernate stability improvements. Overall network performance improvements are also crucial, Sumeeth Evans, director of information technology at CHS, told eWEEK.
"There is a perception in the industry that Microsoft products are not usable until the first or second service pack is released," Evans said. "But this time around, the company delivered regular updates before the service pack release cycle to fix and update the bugs and features in both Vista and Office 2007. It also appears that, in terms of our testing so far, that these service packs are of very good quality."
But while CHS has also already deployed Office 2007 SP1 in its lab and on production IT machines and others, Evans has not yet started testing Windows XP SP3 RC1, Office 2007 SP1, SharePoint 2007 SP1 or Exchange SP1.
December is the companys fiscal year end and the IT department is extremely busy trying to complete projects before the end of the year and handle department requests and projects. "The best time of the year for dealing with service packs for my group is February or March," he said.
Microsoft has made IE 7 available to all Windows XP users. Click here to read more.
CoreBrand, which designs and develops SharePoint 2007 portals for its clients, is currently evaluating SharePoint 2007 SP1 on its development servers and plans a rollout in the first quarter of 2008, at which time it will encourage its clients to do the same, Altziebler said.
While this is also a very busy time of year for the company, he welcomed the service packs and the promise they bring of improving the products it uses on a daily basis.
However, Altziebler is not convinced that will happen, saying he is keeping his "fingers crossed they dont introduce new headaches."
Despite all the service packs Microsoft has rolled out of late, Altziebler said one more is needed: for Internet Explorer 7. "The [Microsoft] IE 7 team has been very quiet since the latest release. IT needs to know the road map for Internet Explorer, especially now where everything is about building smart, Web-based enterprise applications," he said.
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