Why I'm Skipping Windows Vista: IT Speaks Out

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Despite warnings to businesses about the dangers of skipping Windows Vista, many IT managers and CIOs are standing firm that the risks of migrating to Vista outweigh the benefits.

The recent press coverage regarding performance efficiencies seen in the Windows 7 pre-beta (delivered at Microsoft's recent Professional Developers Conference) has dimmed the spotlight on Vista a bit.

Also, Vista sales have fallen short of expectations lately: For the fiscal first quarter of 2009, Microsoft's Windows client division revenue increased a mere 2 percent in year-over-year growth, while operating income dropped by 4 percent.

Mike Nash, corporate VP of Windows product management, was asked recently if he expects users to bypass Vista and wait for Windows 7. He referenced the progress made in Vista SP1, but added that "customers are going to make their own decisions."

Yes, they are. Whether they are spitefully, wholeheartedly skipping Vista or doing it for straightforward budgetary reasons, the decision on what to do (or not to do) with Vista still weighs heavy on the minds of IT managers.

IT pros and CIOs we talked to for this story have some old concerns regarding Vista, starting with its ROI, and some new ones, such as how they'd handle a Vista upgrade for users who've now decided based on months of negative publicity that Vista's a bad choice.

What they have in common is clear: They're sticking with XP, at least until Windows 7 arrives.

XP Works Just Fine, Thank You

The old expression, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it", rings true for IT managers. Many do not see enough demand for Vista at their companies and XP is giving them everything they need. To upgrade would be to unnecessarily complicate their infrastructures, they say.

John Halamka, CIO of Harvard Medical School, says he has not been able to justify upgrading to Vista for his user population of doctors and nurses, citing the PC hardware requirements of Vista and the stability of XP.

"The hardware lifecycle in health care is five to seven years, and Vista requires more modern hardware then we have," Halamka says. "Simplicity, ease of use and performance are key drivers for us. XP addresses these needs better than Vista."

Steve Berg, VP of IT at Taser International, heads up an XP shop and plans to stay that way until Windows 7. "My rationale is that XP is running our applications very well and is extremely stable on our hardware," he says.

Taser rolled out a few Vista installs internally, Berg says, and saw "instability issues and applications running much slower than they run on XP."

Another big concern Berg has with Vista: Significant training would have to take place to get his users comfortable with a different look and feel, he says.

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