Gartner Offers Vista Upgrade Advice

Calling Vista’s November 2006 business launch more of a “message to organizations that they could start official testing” than the beginning of a time in which the operating system would appear on millions of enterprise machines, a report released Jan. 30 by Gartner offers IT professionals advice on planning and deploying Vista.

Now that the grace period is over and enterprises will be putting Vista to the real test, as some users pressure for upgrades, Gartner expects employees to bring it in through the back door in a trend they call “consumerization.” Gartner notes that this is the primary way Windows 95 initially entered the enterprise and that Microsoft hopes this will continue for the current release.

To keep anxious users at bay, Gartner advises IT staffs to list some known issues with Vista and, if unable to stop this consumerization, to at least leverage them for research.

Users should expect many updates from Microsoft and the ecosystem during the first few months of availability due to drive compatibility issues and bugs being ironed out, advises Gartner.

What are Vista’s nine most annoying features? Find out here.

While Microsoft hopes that ease of use, better media support and improved security will make Vista more compelling to home users, it will face challenges explaining these benefits to a fairly content user base that will now need RAM and video upgrades to get the most out of Vista on older PCs. Gartner notes that in-place upgrades are also often perilous because most consumers do not have the capability to wipe out their disks and start from scratch.

As more than 70 percent of PCs shipped in 2007 will come Vista-loaded, Gartner expects consumer adoption to proceed rather quickly. However, within enterprises, the value of Vista will first need to be proven. Enterprises still running Windows 2000 that upgrade to Vista have the bonus of running a supported OS again; however, for enterprises running Windows XP, the risks associated with running an older OS are not relevant.

Yet Vista still offers security features that XP did not. Of these, Gartner feels UAC (User Account Controls) makes controlling access easier, but considers BitLocker “good but not great.” It also argues that improvements made for mobile users are good, but not necessarily enough to make users upgrade ahead of schedule. It calls the changes made to Microsoft’s networking stack significant, but the improvements will not be seen until a large amount of an infrastructure comprises Vista PCs.

Once an organization decides to upgrade to Vista, the tests for compatibility with already-existing applications will likely number into the thousands. While Microsoft aims to offset this holdup by providing the Application Compatibility ToolKit, Garter feels that it is the important changes inevitably released in the first six months that will convince enterprises that Vista is “finished” enough for them to try out the OS.

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