Why I'm Skipping Windows Vista: IT Speaks Out

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Hard to Justify Vista ROI

Any upgrade is an investment, and like any new Microsoft operating system, the Vista upgrade comes with multiple costs including new hardware, new drivers, possible compatibility problems and training of staff. Will there be a sufficient return on these IT budget investments? Some IT managers are still dubious.

Aron Smetana, CIO of Headlands Asset Management/Paul Financial in San Francisco, questions the tangible benefits of upgrading to Vista.

"The features don't justify the costs of upgrading to Vista, which include upgrading and replacing hardware, the user learning curve, and the initial maintenance," Smetana says.

His IT team tried out Vista, Smetana says, and although no one disliked it, "no one kept using it on a daily basis ... there wasn't a compelling case for individuals to keep using it."

Having key business applications that are not certified on Vista is often a roadblock as well. Gasper Genovese, VP and CIO of Republic Media, a media consulting company in Phoenix, says he can't implement Vista because of application certification. But he adds: "Even if that was not the case, there is no ROI on the training and disruption cost of making the change [to Vista]. Given the state of the economy, we need to focus on projects that will move us forward, not allow us to do the same thing differently."

Stephen Laughlin, Director of IT at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, says he feels no pressure to upgrade because, "XP will be able to be used for a long time." Laughlin feels an upgrade to Vista would be too elaborate for his company's needs.

"It means also upgrading to Office, and possibly Exchange, and now Windows Server-there's too much cost, time and energy," he says.

Negative Vista Press on My Mind

Whether Windows Vista deserves all of the negative press it's received is debatable, and even now, you don't have to look far to see that debate unfold on any tech news site or blog.

But the public perception of Vista, true or not, is that it's a failure. This perception tends to get into the heads of IT managers and affect purchasing decisions.

Smetana of Headlands Asset Management contends that Vista has been worn down by being knocked hard in the press.

"While my feeling is that it's not as bad as people think it is, that's hardly a glowing endorsement," he says. "I can also tell you that lots of people, from power-users to Microsofties on my team, really wanted to like it, but no one felt compelled."

Smetana adds: "When an end-user would ask us what was different or cool about it, almost everyone pointed to the Aero screen flipping and the new built-in desktop wallpaper. When that's the biggest thing you can show someone, it makes for a tough sell to provision the budget to upgrade to Vista, and combined with the bad press, it's a major uphill battle."

Berg of Taser International also cites negative perceptions of Vista and says he doesn't want to deal with the potential risks.

"We are on an Enterprise Agreement with Microsoft, so it wouldn't cost us anything extra to upgrade. But I just foresee headaches and complaints from my user community."

This story, "Why I'm Skipping Windows Vista: IT Speaks Out" was originally published by CIO.

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