Analysts: Users Slow to Upgrade Windows
Many corporate users of Microsoft's Windows operating systems aren't keeping up with the steady cycle of version releases. In fact, some are considering abandoning the server version of the operating system because of the constant upgrades, says a leading market researcher.
The majority of IT managers polled by International Data Corp. (IDC) say they are not upgrading their desktop and server software at the same pace that Microsoft is releasing version upgrades. IDC surveyed more than 300 IT managers known to be Windows NT or Windows 2000 users.
Windows users are in no hurry to roll out Windows XP for desktops and the upcoming server software release, Windows .Net Server, IDC says. Aside from the cost and the technical burden of upgrading computer systems, most customers are still working to get Windows 2000 systems rolled out.
"Users say their movement to Microsoft's latest operating systems will proceed on their schedule, not on Microsoft's schedule," says Al Gillen, a systems analyst with IDC who studies Windows customer trends.
The trend clashes with Microsoft's new volume licensing program, called License 6.0, which requires corporate customers to stay current with each new version of Windows or risk paying more for the software, Gillen says.
Microsoft calls License 6.0 the most simple and cost effective way for
customers to purchase its software. However, critics and some analysts have
said that the new plan
As a result, about 15 percent of the customers polled said that demands to keep upgrading corporate computing systems provided the incentive to move to a competing operating system, such as Linux and Unix, according to the survey.
"It's a small percentage but nevertheless, for 15 percent of its customers to be unhappy with a policy Microsoft is setting is not a good sign," Gillen says.
James Carpenter, a senior programmer with Citysearch.com, a division of Ticketmaster, agrees that Microsoft's upgrade cycle is difficult for many corporate customers to keep up with. His company is currently in the process of upgrading its corporate computer system to Windows 2000, and he said that a move to Windows .Net Server is still some time off.
"The Windows 2000 desktop is good for 20 years. Why upgrade to a new system every two or three years?" Carpenter said.
One impediment to staying current with Microsoft's latest version releases has to do with the time and complexity of upgrading computer systems, according to the survey by IDC, which is owned by International Data Group, the parent company of IDG News Service. That often translates to extra costs for IT departments.
"[Microsoft] doesn't talk about implementation costs. They're probably just as big as the cost of the license," Carpenter says. "It is technically difficult and time consuming. You have to have specialists on staff to keep doing rollouts and that gets to be an expensive process."
In fact, three out of four companies report that they are at the beginning stages of adopting Windows 2000 on the server side, according to IDC's survey.
Among those customers surveyed who are upgrading to Windows 2000, IDC found that Microsoft's directory services software, Active Directory, remains one of the greatest kinks in the upgrade process. According to the survey, 36 percent of respondents have delayed Windows 2000 rollouts because of the complexity associated with implementing Active Directory.
"Plans to use Active Directory are extremely high. The problem is that actually doing that is still sometimes difficult and time consuming," Gillen says.
On the desktop, corporate customers are cautiously upgrading to Windows
XP as they wait for the desktop operating system to become more stable.
Already, Microsoft has released a patch to fend off a
"Business users typically have concerns about a new Microsoft product, and that concern was proven to be fairly meaningful when that UPnP bug was revealed," Gillen says. "They want to wait for those things to happen and get fixed."