Vista deployments in the enterprise space continue to lag far behind the new operating system's adoption rates among consumers. According to a new report from Forrester Research, enterprise adoptions hovered at just 2 percent during the first six to eight months of Vista's initial release.
Enterprises seem to be nine to 12 months behind where they said they'd be right now, noted Gartner Client Computing research vice president Michael Silver. "Our clients are saying they will have 20 percent of their users on Windows Vista by year-end 2008, and usually they don't get quite as much done in a year as they predict," Silver said.
By contrast, standardization on Windows XP has gone from 67 percent of all PCs last year to 84 percent of PCs so far this year, according to Forrester Research analyst Benjamin Gray. Microsoft recently extended the shelf life of Vista's predecessor, which is the only OS rival of major significance that Vista faces today, Grey noted in a new report.
An organization that has just replaced all its PCs -- or is just about to replace all its PCs -- with ones intended to last for three to four years might be able to skip Vista, Silver explained. "Organizations that replace 25 to 33 percent of their PCs each year should plan on bringing Vista in on new PCs they buy in late 2008 or early 2009, but should think twice about upgrading existing PCs," Silver advised.
Still, sticking with XP until Windows 7 rolls out has its disadvantages. "Even if Windows 7 does ship in late 2009 as now planned, enterprises won't be able to deploy it until mid 2011," Silver observed. "If it slips into 2010 or beyond, so does the 12 to 18 months they'll spend on planning and testing; and by then, Windows XP will be pretty old," he explained.
Although Microsoft has confirmed that Service Pack 3 for Windows XP is slated to be released in the first half of 2008, "those hoping for new features will be disappointed," Gray observed. "Like a typical service pack, it includes mostly just the incremental patches and updates released over the course of roughly three and a half years bundled into one larger file," he noted.
Although Vista Service Pack 1 is now in major beta test mode in advance of its anticipated release in the first quarter of 2008, Microsoft corporate vice president Mike Nash has been downplaying the need for current XP users to wait for Vista SP1 before updating to the new OS.
It is important to note, Nash said, that if one looks back in time, the use of the Windows online update service has changed dramatically. "We have an infrastructure that is being used on a large number of consumer systems, and in the enterprise space we are seeing that a lot of enterprise customers are using Windows Server update service to provide the same level of automation," Nash explained. "So the old wisdom that said you need to wait for a service pack is kind of not true anymore."
On the other hand, Nash did say that Vista SP1 basically amounts to a test of a new version of Windows. "Focusing all those updates together in one holistic package allows us to run a much more comprehensive pass on how all those things run together because they define that new version of Windows," he explained.