Microsoft has made its best - and perhaps final - case as to why companies should consider upgrading to Windows Vista, even as successor Windows 7 looms on the horizon.
Gavriella Schuster, Microsoft's senior director of Windows client product management, said any customers still running Windows 2000 "should definitely move to Vista." And with Microsoft due to end mainstream support of Windows XP in April, she urged users of that operating system to consider "how much money am I spending keeping XP alive vs. moving on?"
Schuster, who also wrote a post about upgrade issues on the "Windows for your Business" blog that Microsoft launched last week, said users who skip Vista risk having their software vendors end support for the applications they're running on XP.
In addition, Schuster noted, most companies may take up to two years after Windows 7's release to deploy it because of all the required application testing and employee training. As a result, Vista holdouts could go five years or more between upgrades, she said.
Forrester Research Inc. surveyed 962 IT decision-makers about their Vista plans last summer. In a report issued in late January, Forrester said 30 percent of the respondents were already deploying Vista, while another 27 percent planned to roll it out this year or in 2010.
But the survey was conducted before the worsening of the economic downturn. Paul DeGroot, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, said that in the current climate, Microsoft's reasons for upgrading may not be enough to get users to move to Vista.
For example, the Fulton County government in Georgia tested the beta of Vista three years ago and initially planned to upgrade all 6,000 of its PCs by the end of 2007. But even now, Vista is running on only a small portion of its systems because of budget cuts forced by reductions in tax revenues.
"We're stuck," said Jay Terrell, the county's deputy director of IT. "We're going to wait for Windows 7, though it's not because we [want to] wait."
Papa Gino's looked at Vista for its 160 corporate employees but decided to wait for Windows 7, said CIO Paul Valle. And, he said, the restaurant chain probably won't "get serious" about upgrading until Microsoft issues a second service-pack update for Windows 7.
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