Microsoft announced Feb. 20 new tools for easing Windows Vista deployments. The tools come about two-and-a-half months after Microsoft released the new operating system to businesses.
The tools—immediately available—let businesses assess hardware and software compatibility with Vista, better manage product licensing activation, and virtualize older Windows versions during Vista testing, deployment and transition processes.
The tools seem late in coming, given that enterprises had access to Vista through volume licensing since Nov. 30. However, Michael Cherry, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, said hes not surprised by the timing.
"I dont see the November release as anything other than Microsoft saying, See, we released it before the end of the year like we said," Cherry said. "Jan. 30 was the real Vista launch."
Cherrys date for the real launch would put some of the new tools on target or just a few weeks late. Already, analysts and channel partners held dim views of real-world Vista deployments. In November, a CDW survey of 761 IT managers from businesses and government and educational institutions of all sizes revealed that only 20 percent of respondents would begin Vista deployments within 12 months.
Gartner found that most businesses wouldnt begin production deployment of Vista until the fourth quarter of 2007. Larger enterprises wouldnt start until the second quarter of 2008. Presumably, Microsoft would release Longhorn Server and Vista desktop SP1 before early, first deployments.
Microsofts first tool, the Windows Vista Hardware Assessment Tool 1.0 Solution Accelerator, is designed for use by channel partners or IT organizations with 5,000 or fewer PCs. The network-based tool assesses the hardware capabilities of connected PCs and ranks them by three criteria:
- Vista incompatibility
- Vista Capable—running with limited capabilities, such as the basic user interface
- Vista Premium Ready—running all capabilities, including the Aero user interface
The tool makes specific hardware recommendations based on the assessment of each client PC, such as upgrading system or graphics memory. The software had been available in beta for a number of months before being released Feb. 20 as a Version 1.
In December, Softchoice warned that 94 percent of PCs in North America would not be capable of running Windows Vista Home Premium—half of PCs, any Vista version.
Forty-one percent of 100 CIOs (75 from the United States and 25 from Europe) by Merrill Lynch in late 2006 said that Vista will drive higher PC configurations. Seventy-two percent of CIOs said system memory is the component most likely to need upgrading, with the average increasing to 1.2GB from 603MB.
On Feb. 20, Microsoft reannounced ACT (Application Compatibility Toolkit) 5.0, which was released on Jan. 30. More than a year ago, Microsoft started releasing versions of ACT with Windows Vista test builds. IT organizations, channel partners and ISVs would use ACT 5.0 to assess and seek to resolve application compatibility problems with Windows Vista.
Microsoft designed ACT 5.0 to analyze some of the possibly most worrisome compatibility problems, such as UAC (User Account Control). In Windows Vista, all users—even administrators—run in standard mode. However, many applications expect elevated user privileges, which could create mild to serious—as in program failure—compatibility problems with Vista. ACT 5.0 also can assess Web site or Web-based application compatibility with Internet Explorer 7.