Windows Vista came on a new Dell computer I bought and I was happy. Then sad. The happiness was in seeing the snazzy new interface and fancy features. Right on the desktop you can add widgets to enhance your desktops productivity.
Why was I sad. Well nothing in life is perfect – including Vista. It had problems with some legacy drivers and could not print properly. If you’re buying new computers, I caution you to wait before upgrading to Vista. Windows XP is a proven and stable operating system – Windows Vista still has some kinks in it.
By the way – if you do get Vista, get the business version – not the home version.
Evan Stein’s CMIT Solutions (formerly Tailwind Consulting) offers advice in an article Things to Consider Before Upgrading to Windows Vista:
CDW recently conducted a survey of 761 IT decision-makers, asking if and when they plan to adopt Microsoft Vista. More than 85% said they expect to adopt Vista, with 20% saying they aim to deploy it by the end of 2007. Many CMIT offices have reported clients inquiring about an upgrade to Windows Vista. Before upgrading, business owners should be aware of several things before moving forward. The primary consideration is typically cost – software licensing, hardware, and training. To make sure your organization is getting ready for the eventual upgrade, here are six things to consider as you begin to move forward.
1. Are your vendors and application developers ready for Vista?
Top of mind as companies start down the Vista path should be where their application vendors stand with Vista compatibility. While Microsoft offers compatibility information for mainstream applications, now is the time for IT to speak with security and custom applications vendors to ensure they are going to support Vista in a timely fashion.
In fact, in the CDW survey, 26% of respondents said they were worried there would not be compatibility for Vista with their current security and antivirus software vendors. Another 10% said they were concerned they would need to make a bigger investment in new licensing. With that in mind, you need to budget for application development or licensing to get your mission-critical applications to be Vista-compatible.
2. What is the state of your laptops and desktops?
You’ll want to consider possible PC upgrades. Make sure any incremental hardware purchases you’re making now will work for widespread Vista adoption. As a general rule, IT departments should plan that desktops and laptops older than 18 to 24 months will not be migrated to Vista. The normal replacement cycle for a laptop is 36 months, so it’s not cost-effective to go back and retrofit older machines.
In the CDW survey, 51% of the respondents said at least half of their organization’s hardware will require upgrading or replacement to become Vista compatible.
Microsoft’s Vista page and CDW’s Vista page both have tools to test whether PCs are Vista-compliant or Vista-capable. You can use these pages to establish baseline requirements in terms of CPU, memory and even graphics cards necessary to optimally run Vista.
3. What is the state of your enterprise at large?
What applications, hardware and peripherals are in use throughout your organization? Are they Vista-ready? Chances are some aren’t, and this is a good time to budget for replacements.
Organizations should do an inventory check of in-house and remote resources. Part of this can be done automatically using asset management tools that check computers as they come onto the network. IT departments should also send out a survey to users asking them what programs, PCs, printers, fax machines, routers, etc. they use at home. Completing these tasks will help you get a sense of what’s out there and what you’ll have to support.
4. How well-versed are your users?
A portion of your Vista budget should include training. Since it’s impossible to know what your training needs will be without first seeing how users interact with the new operating system, it’s a good idea to create a pilot group made up of a cross-section of users across all departments. This group should include both experienced and rookie users, as well as in-house, remote and mobile workers. Seeing what obstacles they run into will help you plot out training and help desk budgets.
5. Are you standardized?
Now may be the best time to streamline your support of gear and applications and create configuration guidelines. By narrowing down the number of platforms, applications and devices that are supported, IT can cut support costs dramatically. Standardization also helps users who are struggling to figure out what remote or home-office setups they should purchase.
Streamlining acceptable operating system and application configurations will go a long way toward keeping the cost of Vista upgrades in check. If you limit the feature sets that are turned on in the operating system as well as what applications can be loaded, you can lower the overall CPU and memory requirements.
CMIT also recommends using the information you gather from your automated inventory and user surveys to determine what applications and devices are in common use and add those to your Vista compatibility check. This will also allow IT resources to determine which applications can be phased out or retired.
6. What’s your plan to avoid a technology pileup?
A final part of your budget should be allocated for the recovery and disposal of older gear. Make sure you have a plan for bringing PCs back to IT and protecting company information. All hard drives and storage devices should be centrally backed up and then wiped clean before disposal. Your organization may want to consider a recycling program. This allows you to get rid of the clutter while taking care of those items in a responsible way.
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