Microsoft Windows 7: Wait for the Release or Go with the Upgrade?

NEWS ANALYSIS: Microsoft is planning to upgrade Windows Vista licenses for free. But should the enterprise use that option to its advantage?

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Last week, Microsoft announced that Windows Vista users will soon be able to upgrade to Windows 7 for free. Consumers who buy Windows Vista during Microsoft's upgrade period will receive a free copy of Windows 7 when it's released on Oct. 22. So far, there's no word on when Microsoft will start the free upgrade program. Recent rumors suggest it might announce the start of that program by the end of June. Either way, it's Microsoft's ploy to get people to buy Windows Vista and more importantly, keep buying computers, until Windows 7 finally hits store shelves this fall.
For some consumers, it might make sense. They can get that computer they want now and when Windows 7 is released, upgrade to the new software. For the impatient, it's a great option. But for the enterprise, companies that have a vested interest in ensuring their computers are running at the highest level at all times, it's a far more difficult decision to make. Installing Vista now makes it easier to upgrade to Windows 7 later this year. That said, buying new hardware, complete with Windows 7, is far more convenient.
Is it convenience or a desire to upgrade that should chart the enterprise's path going forward? Easy: convenience.
Companies shouldn't be upgrading to Vista
In the enterprise, companies usually replace existing hardware every three to four years. In that time, they upgrade software to ensure it's the latest and greatest on the market. But in recent years, that hasn't been happening. Save for those companies that decided to upgrade their hardware with XP just before Windows Vista was released, the vast majority of organizations today are suffering with outdated hardware out of fear of upgrading to Windows Vista. Instead of using an operating system that might cause severe compatibility issues and hinder their ability to do business, most organizations have instead chosen to get by with XP.
It's definitely time for an upgrade. But Vista isn't the answer now just because Microsoft will offer a free upgrade to Windows 7. Sure, Windows 7 might be ideal for the enterprise when it's released in October, but Vista hasn't changed. It's still bloated and it's still rife with incompatibility issues that will undoubtedly scare some companies away. A free upgrade path to Microsoft's latest operating system isn't changing that. Windows Vista is the same operating system before Microsoft announced the free upgrade. If companies didn't want it before, what makes us think they would want it afterwards?

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger is a longtime freelance contributor to several technology and business publications. Over his career, Don has written about everything from geek-friendly gadgetry to issues of privacy...