It may look like Windows Vista. It shares the same code base as Vista. It even rolls in Vista's first Service Pack. But in terms of customer adoption plans, Windows Server 2008 is no Vista.
A new Computerworld survey shows that 63% of the 403 respondents plan to adopt Microsoft's new server operating system. (You can read more extensive survey results here.) This contrasts with the intention of some IT organizations to skip Vista entirely and move directly to Windows 7 on the desktop. According to an online survey of 372 IT professionals conducted by Sanford C. Bernstein in May, companies expect just 26% of their PCs to be running Vista by the beginning of 2011, down from an estimate of nearly 68% of computers based on a similar survey a year ago.
"I haven't seen any shadow of Vista being cast over Windows Server 2008," says John Enck, analyst at Gartner Inc. Most industry watchers, in fact, agree that deployment is not a matter of if, but when and where.
IT executives say that for the most part, Windows Server 2008's many new features won't compel them to change their normal refresh schedules to adopt it right away. "It's just an evolutionary step from Server 2003," says Rick Redman, senior IT analyst for the city of Amarillo, Texas.
Jim Thomas, director of IT operations at window manufacturer Pella Corp. in Pella, Iowa, says Microsoft's new virtualization hypervisor, Hyper-V, is interesting. But other than that, he says, there's "not a whole lot" that he finds compelling. And Hyper-V is too new and immature to warrant rushing ahead to convert his 425 Windows servers, he adds.
Overall, however, IT decision-makers give the operating system a qualified thumbs up and plan to move to it as part of the normal server refresh cycle, which typically ranges from three to five years. Some customers, for instance, phase in new servers by replacing one-third of their machines each year; others replace all of their servers at once.
"We're coming at it much more from a normal rollout of an operating system," says Bob Yale, IT principal at The Vanguard Group Inc. in Valley Forge, Pa. Vanguard has about 1,200 Windows servers, most of which are running Windows Server 2003.
Overall, 59% of Computerworld's survey respondents who said they plan to adopt Windows Server 2008 (WS '08) expect to get started within the next 12 months. More than half -- 55% -- expect to complete the transition within two years. The highest level of interest came from respondents at midsize organizations with 100 to 1,000 employees; 69% of them said they expect to get started within the next 12 months.