No Enterprise Rush to Newest Microsoft Products

As Microsoft prepares for the launch of Windows Vista, Office 2007 and Exchange Server 2007, customer upgrades and partner solution rollouts may not happen as fast as expected.

As Microsoft prepares for the official business launch of Windows Vista, Office 2007 and Exchange Server 2007 on Nov. 30, customer upgrades and partner solution rollouts based on the new technologies may not happen as quickly as Redmond would like.

Many customers do not plan an immediate upgrade to the new products, while partners will roll out new solutions based on these technologies over time.

That is borne out by statistics from research group Gartner, which said that while some 58 percent of new PC shipments in 2007 will include Windows Vista, they also estimate that Vista will be running on less than 10 percent of PCs in the installed base by the end of 2007.

That figure is expected to rise to 29.3 percent in 2008, 50 percent in 2009 and 67.7 percent by the end of 2010.

Gartner analysts Michael Silver and David Smith are also advising companies that they should expect to spend 18 months testing, planning and piloting before undergoing large-scale mainstream deployment.

Gunnar Thaden, CIO of the TUV Nord Group, one of Germanys largest technical service providers and which specializes in technical safety, environmental protection and conformity assessment of management systems and products, is upbeat about the security, reliability, and less administration that comes with Windows Vista.

Thaden, who is based in Hannover, Germany, is also pleased that this latest version of Windows, which was five years in the making, is "evolutionary rather than revolutionary," in terms of enterprise functionality.

/zimages/4/28571.gifWhat is the business case for upgrading to Vista? Click here to read more.

"Vista is building on the enterprise base that Windows 2000 and Windows XP established. I can say it meets the needs of large enterprises head-on and, from an administration point of view, is a secure, architecturally driven operating system," Thaden told eWEEK in an interview.

TUV Nord, which has been an early tester of Vista under Microsofts Technology Adopter program, has some 7,000 computers in its network, 60 percent of which are laptops used out in the field, said Frank Boerger, the companys head of client and user support.

While there are some disadvantages associated with Vista, which is more complex due to all the new security features, including the restrictions of user rights and the pop-up Windows that are activated when switching from one level to another, this is offset by the enhanced security it brings, he said.

"Vista is a good long-term investment, with the administration, features and security we need. As an enterprise we are pleased that it is an evolutionary upgrade to XP rather than a revolutionary upgrade, which is not what enterprises want in their operating system," Boerger said.

/zimages/4/28571.gifTo read more about whats inside the six Windows Vista releases, click here.

But TUV Nord does not plan to immediately upgrade all 7,000 of its machines to Vista. The current plan is that every new laptop and desktop will have Vista installed.

Those still using Windows 2000 will be upgraded first, with some 60 percent of its machines likely to be upgraded over the next year, with the balance on Vista by the end of 2008, he said.

TUV also has a policy of only working with a small number of software vendors and partners, largely Windows and SAP, so as to create a homogeneous infrastructure and reduce the complexity of its environment.

"This yields a higher return on investment for us and is an approach we have studied and evaluated for many years. We truly believe it yields positive returns for us," Thaden said.

With regard to application compatibility, Boerger said this is an issue for the firm, which has more than 700 different software packages that need to be tested for compatibility.

Thaden agrees that compatibility between Vista and its third-party software has been a concern, particularly with SAP, its largest application. He added that the company has 500 servers and its infrastructure has become increasingly complex.

Next Page: Five-year wait for Vista was a good thing.