Beating the Eye Candy Rap?

Most readers say they'll wait to move over to Vista.

Is the world counting the minutes for the release of Vista on a cold day in January? Despite the increasing din from Microsofts hype machine and upbeat notes from Windows evangelists, enterprise and small business managers see a transition far in the future.

But how far? It could be very, very far. At the same time, Vista appears to be gaining a reputation among users as "eye candy." This perception may be hard to shake.

In a recent column, I asked if readers believe we will see an immediate surge in Vista upgrades or whether most enterprise and SMB sites will wait. And, if they were putting off the transition, how long?

Using the responses as an informal poll, the results show that Microsoft hasnt made much of a dent in the negative perception of the update. Most responders said they will wait a very long time before moving to Windows Vista.

According to Stefan, a manager in the European wing of a global Top 10 manufacturing company, his companys desktops were only recently converted to Windows XP.

"Now, XP is nearly five years old. And to my greatest dismay, [Microsoft] even cared to disable the Luna desktop style," he said. "So what do you think, when will the company introduce Vista to its PCs? And [even then] will it be recognizable as Vista? I doubt it will be before all support for XP ceases."

Frederick, an IT analyst at a major university science center, said that when costs for hardware and software changes were counted with the additional training and support budgets needed for the transition, Vista was scratched.

"My recommendation to the director is that if we have to go to Vista—-provided MS doesnt follow through with their promise of releasing a new OS every two to three years—then we should wait until at least the second service pack," Frederick said. "Why wait for SP2? Because Redmond knows that most corporations will wait until the first, so it will prematurely release the first service pack to kick-start Vista."

A majority of readers said they would do likewise and wait until, or past, Vista SP2. Of course, we dont know when that will be, but that release could be well into the 2009 time frame. Or perhaps longer?

Several messages suggested customers might be able to gamble with the upgrade cycle. According to reader Bruce, his IT department will start to evaluate Vista in the second quarter of 2007, with the earliest deployment coming toward the end of the year. However, he expected the real schedule would be in the second half of 2008.

Yet, Will, the CIO of an enterprise networking integrator and consulting company, was upbeat about Vistas benefits; however, he foresaw hurdles to its adoption in his own company.

He pointed to several positives: Vistas modular architecture; the changes to the handling of the registry, which should avoid "Windows rot;" improved security; better integration with Windows Mobile; and the better UI.

Still, "the biggest problem Vista faces is the perception by users that its just a whiz-bang, shiny feature-enhancement to XP," Will said.

According to reader Dennis, the only way Vista client and Longhorn server would make sense would be if his company was doing a "forklift upgrade" on its entire client/server infrastructure.

"I dont think that scenario is going to happen at very many companies, however. It certainly isnt going to happen here," Dennis said.

As a longtime Mac user, I find a great irony here. Windows users have long dissed the Mac platform with the label of "eye candy." This was true during the era of the classic Mac OS and was doubly so when Apple unveiled its Aqua UI for OS X.

The Windows installed base has lived with the current UI for a long time, and while it doesnt love it, Windows fits like a prized old pair of jeans. And they appear have internalized the implicit message: An advanced GUI is "eye candy."

Does Microsoft believe that its customers will buy the idea that the Mac stuff is eye candy, while the new Windows UI is "evolution"? Hey, I know eye candy when I see it.

So how can anyone be shocked when Windows users feel they can do without Vista? Its like tossing out that old T-shirt. Dont get me wrong, I like Vistas UI. But, then, Im a Mac guy, who believes in eye candy.

David Morgenstern is an eWeek contributing editor who focuses on storage and systems. He can be reached at