Microsoft on March 21 said it would delay the general release of Windows Vista, which had been expected to come out this fall, to January.
The company chalked this decision up to caution about not wanting to affect PC makers fourth-quarter consumer PC business with a possible missed ship date.
Businesses, which have no such concerns, will be able to get the code to upgrade from older versions of Windows to the new Vista operating system in November, however, Microsoft said.
But the chances of workers getting an upgrade to the new operating system at work before they get the opportunity to buy one for home are slim at best, several IT managers told eWEEK.
"Our upgrade policy for Microsoft software … as well [as] with most vendors, is to hold off on deploying into production a new software release for a minimum of six months after a major product release," said Tom Miller, an eWEEK Corporate Partner and senior direction of IT at FoxHollow Technologies, in Redwood City, Calif.
"As compelling as some new features may be, we need to test compatibility with other applications and factor in training and resources required for planning and deploying the upgrade," in addition to timing it with other software releases such as Office, Miller said.
Indeed, corporations, which are normally cautious about rolling out new operating systems, arent likely to move any more quickly to Vista than they did to Windows XP, which came out in 2001 but which analysts say took several more years to wind its way onto business desktops en masse—and, in fact, analysts say many companies are still on Windows 2000, and some even use Windows NT.
Many will begin testing soon in order to be sure of issues such as application compatibility. But they are likely to wait to adopt until Microsoft releases the first Vista service pack, which will include updates and bug fixes. Microsoft typically doesnt release its first service pack for about a year after rolling out a new operating system.
Given the wait for the service pack and the amount of evaluation and testing work required, "It will probably be at least one year before we would even consider some form of an upgrade," Miller said. "That would need to be balanced … with the release of the new Microsoft Office suite."
Other IT managers said they would take an equally cautious approach to the upgrade.
"Once we decide to start working with Vista, we will test it in a lab environment and if all goes well we will then roll it out on a limited basis until we are sure there are no major issues," said Ed Benincasa, vice president of MIS at FN Manufacturing, in Columbia, S.C., and an eWEEK Corporate Partner.