Desktop OS, Hold the Vista

Enterprise IT managers are making OS moves on their own timetable, a survey shows.

Exclusive eWEEK research indicates that Microsoft's desktop Windows operating system is a rousing success.


No, XP.

In a survey conducted by Ziff Davis Enterprise Editorial Research for eWEEK of enterprise IT professionals, just 2 percent of respondents said that Vista was the primary desktop operating system at their companies, while 92 percent indicated that XP was their primary desktop OS.

Respondents whose companies have implemented Vista or plan to indicated that the primary driver was not any improvements the new OS offers, but rather new hardware.

Thirty-four percent of these respondents indicated that their organizations' primary driver for Vista implementation would be the OS coming in on new hardware; 17 percent said the primary driver was the OS' improved security; 13 percent said integration with Windows Server 2008; 7 percent said improved usability/functionality; and 3 percent said improved reliability.

Ever wondered why to choose Vista? Click here to view a slideshow that answers the question.

A relatively significant number of people selected "other" in response to this question, with many specifying that the main driver for moving to Vista would be the end of support for XP and keeping current.

But this is just the circle of life (Windows life, that is), according to IT managers who spoke with eWEEK.

"I expect, like in XP, migration will occur as new machines arrive with Vista," said Robert Rosen, CIO of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. "There doesn't, at this point, appear to be sufficient ROI to go through a massive conversion of older machines."

When a new operating system is released-desktop or otherwise-IT organizations don't jump to move to it. Unless there's a problem with the existing OS, migration happens during the normal hardware lifecycle updates-and not before.

"Our main OS is XP," said Ed Benincasa, vice president of management-information systems at FN Manufacturing. "We are running Vista in the IT environment and testing with apps to see how it works and what our issues are. We haven't found any argument that says, -Let's upgrade because it's superior due to X."

Benincasa said his company has a rotation plan in which new hardware replaces outdated systems every three or four years. New operating systems typically come into the organization on these systems.

Kevin Baradet, CTO of the S.C. Johnson School of Management at Cornell University, updates hardware for the school's staff on a similar schedule, and said that upgrades typically aren't a good use of the IT department's time. "When we configure a computer, we try and make sure it has enough memory and CPU to get it through its lifecycle."

That goes for the operating system, too, and XP seems to be holding its own just fine, especially when you compare the jump from, say, Windows 95 to 98 with the jump from Windows XP to Windows Vista.