Vista's Bad Rap and the Adoption Gap

Posted by sumeethevans on April 17 2008, 9:01 PM. Posted in Windows Vista.

Not to be outdone by last week's dismal Gartner analysis of Windows Vista, today Forrester Research heaped on its own grim perspective.

Forrester whacked Vista in not one but two reports: "Building The Business Case For Windows Vista: Five Reasons To Start Your Company's Migration Soon" and "Lessons Learned From Early Adopters Of Windows Vista: How Businesses Can Overcome The Most Common Migration Challenges."

Forrester analyst Benjamin Gray identifies Vista's biggest problem without clearly stating what it is. That's because the problem lies first with Microsoft, but he writes for technology professionals:

"Desktop operations professionals tell Forrester that they see the value in standardizing on Windows Vista, but many are having a hard time convincing their CIOs that the move isn't a risky bet, given the mixed reaction it's received in the press and the speculation surrounding what to expect after Windows Vista."

As I have written here so many times, Vista has a perception problem—a really big one. Vista isn't a bad operating system, contrary to the musings of bloggers and the news media. Vista is a mediocre operating system, when Microsoft needed to release something great. Vista is to Windows XP what the old Elvis was to the younger one.

Gray best sums up Vista's perception problem in this sentence: "Forrester has spoken with dozens of companies that are internally debating the possibility of skipping Windows Vista entirely and going straight to the next release, known as 'Windows 7.'" Considering that about six years separate XP and Vista, such willingness to wait even longer is sad commentary on Microsoft's current Windows version. Seven isn't expected for perhaps two more years.

A secondary inhibitor is the "wait-and-see" problem. If nobody's deploying Vista, then nobody else will. IT organizations do watch what their peers do in other businesses—and they want to learn from best practices or even mistakes.

Gray writes: "Because adoption has been cautious, it's been a challenge for companies to learn from early adopters." In that context, "it's not a huge surprise that just over half the enterprises we surveyed don't yet have Windows Vista deployment plans. Others are simply taking a wait-and-see approach."

Gray takes a bean counter's approach to Vista adoption: There is no other choice. He explains that in Europe and the United States, 97 percent of SMBs and 99 percent of enterprises run Windows on the desktop. "For large businesses, there's no viable alternative," he concludes.

Gray's IT organizational advice sums up to this—in my words, not his: Suck it up. Vista is inevitable.

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