Vista Reduces Mobile Computing TCO, Study Says

A Microsoft-sponsored report finds that Vista can reduce the total cost of ownership for mobile computing by $605 per PC annually.

Organizations currently running Windows XP on their mobile PCs could save $605 a year per machine by replacing those systems with Windows Vista, using the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack and best practices to improve infrastructure optimization, a Microsoft-sponsored study has found.

"Windows Vista, with related technologies and best practices implemented, can reduce the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for mobile computing by $605 per PC annually, to $3,802 with Vista from $4,407 with Windows XP—a 14 percent reduction," Paul Schwarz, director for research and analytics at GCR Custom Research, said in a media briefing Sept. 5.

The study, titled "Reducing TCO with Windows Vista," can be found in PDF form here.

It was based on 524 interviews with IT decision makers and end users from 131 qualified U.S.-based organizations with 100 or more mobile PCs. Of these, 68 responses contained complete descriptions that were appropriate for more detailed cost and industry breakdowns, Schwarz said.


Read more here about the recent Windows Genuine Advantage system shutdown that denied validation to Vista systems.

"The focus was on those organizations running Windows XP, 60 percent of which were mobile PCs. They were selected from four industries: health care, professional services, financial services and technology. A predictive tool was then developed to estimate the TCO savings under Windows Vista, which became the framework for the comparative analysis," Schwarz said.

Bill Barna, a consultant for Wipro Technologies, headquartered in Bangalore, India, worked with GCR Custom Research on the study, which started in January and ended in May. He said the TCO savings were achieved in three ways. The first was replacing Windows XP machines with Vista ones and taking advantage of Vistas out-of-the-box features, which yielded a saving of $251 per PC per year.

These features include enhanced security, which yielded a $55 savings per machine; desktop engineering and support savings of $46 per PC; service desk savings of $8 per mobile machine; labor savings of $141; and a hardware and software savings of $1 per machine if additional memory was not required, Barna said.

The second way TCO savings were realized with Vista was through infrastructure optimization. Six best practices were identified on this front, including controlling PC and software configurations, standardizing on a single operating system, using auto password reset, a centrally managed PC firewall, and automatic user data backup, he said.


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"Adopting two, three or more of these best practices leads to an increased optimization level, with a saving in IT labor costs of between 30 percent and 52 percent. For this paper we used a saving of 42 percent or $236 a PC annually," Barna said.

The Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack, which is available to organizations with Software Assurance, is a product Microsoft created from five technologies it acquired in 2006.

It includes Microsofts SoftGrid Application Virtualization, Asset Inventory Service, the Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset, Advanced Group Policy Management, and Desktop Error Monitoring.

"Together these tools can potentially reduce annual mobile computing TCO costs by as much as $118 per PC as a result of reduced costs for labor, hardware and software, the service desk, [and] desktop engineering and support," Barna said.

The study also gives suggestions for how users can start evaluating the potential benefits of Vista for mobile computing, including looking at their current TCO breakdowns to evaluate the level of savings that Vista would provide across the different IT labor categories, examining the additional best practices enabled by Vista, and evaluating the amount of software license cost and implementation complexity that could be reduced by adopting the new operating system.


To read more about the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack, click here.

"Companies with a high percentage of Road Warriors, such as professional services firms, should evaluate the increase in on-the-road productivity and billable hours that would result from the benefits of less user troubleshooting and more business productivity because of Vista," the report said.

The study recommended that industries like health care and financial services where security and regulatory compliance are paramount should assess the risk reduction potential from Windows BitLocker Drive Encryption, the increased control provided by Windows User Account Control and group policies, and the ability to reduce compliance testing costs through MDOP Application Virtualization.


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