Thursday, September 11, 2008

OT: Is Vista ever the Right Tool for the Job?

The laptop I've been using for the last year is a perfect fit for the task at hand. It has a 233mhz CPU, 64 mb of ram, a couple of gig of disk space, runs Windows 98 and Office 97 like a dream and it does everything I need on my daily commute to and from the city. I never got around to installing Notes R5 on it since I use that commuting time for writing proposals and playing with numbers rather than resolving email. At the Partnerworld conference in Sydney earlier this year IBM gave away some smoothlooking pens with an embedded 256mb memory stick - thanks IBM - so I use that as the data conduit between the laptop and the network.

My reason for sharing this piece of technical nostalgia with you is this article from six weeks ago - I told you I was cleaning out my in-tray - talking of the perils of skipping the Vista OS and waiting for Windows 7. The theme of the article is that failing to upgrade to the latest Microsoft technology is dangerous for your business. Lets look at some quotes :

"Waiting another two years -- or more -- for Windows 7 is a gamble on a business's financial future. And that wait could be longer if Microsoft delays Windows 7, further complicating application compatibility issues."

"As XP gets older, you may hit more issues and at some point -- we think that point is 2012 -- you will need to bite the bullet and move all your users from XP to Windows 7. Which means you may need to hire an external service provider to help you move."

Call me stoopid if you like, but I really can't see the the gamble which the article states is being undertaken by businesses who don't upgrade to Vista. Yes I know Gartner wrote an article on precisely those points but I'm not going to pay USD$195 for a four page PDF explaining why I need to send more money to Microsoft.

Lets stick with the original article for the moment:

"... support for XP is more likely to be dropped by some application vendors before Microsoft halts its own support."

I don't think so. No application vendor will cut their own throat by refusing to support the most commonly used OS. Application support for XP will only stop after it loses critical mass in the marketplace and given the 1-2 year lead time that application vendors provide when notifying End of Life for an application version, there will be plenty of time to consider and implement an OS upgrade.

"Consider cash. Since an OS refresh of some sort is inevitable, CIOs should consider conducting on when they have the budget to do it. Waiting another two years -- or more -- for Windows 7 is a gamble on a business's financial future. And that wait could be longer if Microsoft delays Windows 7, further complicating application compatibility issues."

Why should an OS 'refresh' be inevitable at all? If the existing OS is doing the job and there is no financial or business justification for moving to an alternative system then why spend even one red cent talking about buying Vista? It gets worse when we read the tissue paper logic about a '... gamble on a business's financial future'. So where is the gamble? How is my financial future at risk if I don't upgrade? There seems to be the implication that if I have the money today then I should quickly give it to Microsoft before I get tempted to spend it anywhere else.

"Support for XP from hardware vendors could also wane by 2011 or thereabouts..."

Another bogeyman without any substance. If the world is still running on XP then the hardware manufacturers will provide drivers for that OS. Failing to do so means they won''t sell their hardware.

"Lastly, organizations working without the Microsoft Software Assurance program may also be stuck if Windows 7 does not include downgrade rights to XP, a scenario Gartner considers likely. In that case, XP users who skip Vista would be required to buy Windows 7 licenses to upgrade."

Or they could switch to Linux or Apple or Citrix technology or, if the organisation was big enough, maybe the threat of them doing that would be enough for Microsoft to relent on allowing downgrade rights.

Getting back to my laptop for the moment. That machine is the right tool for the job and it makes no financial sense for me to invest in an upgraded tool. I have the same impression about this whole XP to Vista upgrade thing. Has anyone, anywhere ever found a situation where an organization was financially worse off because they didn't upgrade from XP to Vista? As Rod Tidwell would say...

"Show me the money!"

1 comment:

NotesTracker said...

Couldn't agree more. I'm using Windows XP Pro and haven't upgraded to my (valid) copy of Vista (waste of time and effort for little benefit and a worse user experience). I've just installed Windows 7 Beta1 in a virtual and am playing around with it.

While beta is externally called "Windows 7 Ultimate" you'll find that the internal version number is 6.1 -- implying that even Microsoft themselves regard it as a relatively minor upgrade to Vista (which of course is version 6.0).

Business Week has an article on this: Why Does Windows 7 Think It's Windows 6.1?

My own initial impressions are that there are some nice but hardly essential improvements, but when it's finally released I'll probably install it (as long as I can upgrade directly from XP).

Meanwhile, Microsoft is missing the opportunity to come out with any significant architectural enhancements, see for example my recent rant: Windows 7 won’t plug this dyke

Please note that I'm NOT a Microsoft hater, just disappointed in the weak ongoing evolution of capabilities and feature sets of their two most heavily used desktop products, Windows and Internet Explorer.