IT Users: Wait and See on XP

Many buyers will wait until they purchase their hardware before upgrading to newest Windows OS

As Microsoft Corp. last week released the final code for Windows XP to PC makers, corporate customers did not appear as excited about the operating system as the company would probably like.

Many IT buyers contacted by eWeek are either still evaluating the product—with a plan to upgrade in the future—or have decided to wait until they buy new hardware.

Robert Rice, a computer consultant in Salt Lake City, said, "As far as I can tell, XP does not bring to the table any significant technology that would revolutionize software the way Windows 95 did." The systems in Rices office are mostly running Windows 98 or Windows 2000. "We have no plans to upgrade until we buy new PCs, which wont be for a while, as we replaced them all due to Y2K concerns," he said, adding that most software will be compatible with current systems for years to come.

Rice, who runs Windows 98 on his desktop and laptop, has "no interest in upgrading until I buy a new system, or until the dust settles on XP and it can be fairly and objectively determined if such an upgrade is worth the cost."

"In addition, there is likely to be a later version with many patches, so I wouldnt even waste my time until Im sure the bugs are worked out," he said.

John Persinger, an internal network administrator for Dominion Solutions Inc., in Roanoke, Va., said he feels much the same way. His company primarily runs Windows NT servers and is evaluating its options on the workstation side. "The low-grade systems running 95/98 are likely to move to NT Workstation over the next few months," he said. "Those already using Workstation will remain as they are, and when new machines are added or old ones are upgraded, we will move to 2000."

Dominion has some 200 desktops and 13 servers but, as a solution provider, has placed hundreds elsewhere. "XP is tricky for us in that our needs are met by what we currently have," he said. "With the economy as it is, we want to be cautious where we place our funds. Until a clear need is shown for XP, we have no plans to integrate it."

Dominion has, however, approved a few testing systems loaded with XP. The company believes that access to the newest operating systems and applications should be available for study by its engineers without a corporatewide implementation, Persinger said.

Andre Jennings, an enterprise security manager in Atlanta, is far more upbeat about XP. "We have more than 1,500 users and are currently using NT Workstation 4.0 as the corporate standard," Jennings said. "We are looking at [Windows 2000 Professional] and XP Pro. I have had Windows XP [Release Candidate 2] up and running for quite some time and havent encountered a blue screen of death yet. ... We plan on upgrading when we start to refresh the corporate standard in January. XP is a great product."