Businesses biding time on Vista upgrades

Summary:Analysts say the corporate world remains cautious about upgrading to Microsoft's latest operating system

Six months after the launch of Windows Vista, businesses remain cautious about Microsoft's latest operating system.

Although Microsoft has painted a rosy picture of adoption of its new operating system, analysts say the decision to upgrade hasn't been quick or simple for enterprises.

Vista is a much bigger change for businesses than XP, which was essentially a Windows 2000 update, said Ovum analyst David Bradshaw. As a result companies will upgrade to it depending on their needs and whether it is supported by their existing hardware.

Bradshaw said: "They [big firms] have to resolve all these kind of issues. The bigger the organisation, the bigger the problems they'll have."

As result, he said: "At the moment there's relatively little uptake among business users."

Annette Jump, research director at Gartner, said uptake for large businesses could be as low as one percent, mainly consisting of organisations testing the operating system or those which are part of the early adoption programme.

"There is very limited uptake in the larger companies," she said.

Bigger companies will probably wait until mid-2008 to make the switch to Vista, to ensure all their applications are fully supported, she said.

She said: "There are lots of issues in terms of the drivers needed. It is not something that will be resolved very quickly."

There is even evidence that some businesses are buying PCs installed with Vista then downgrading to XP to put off making a full upgrade, she added.

When it comes to smaller companies, Jump said it might be a different story "because small businesses behave more like consumers".

But she said uptake could be driven by a lack of choice compared to when XP came out. When XP was launched in 2003, Windows 2000 and Windows 98 still came pre-installed on PCs.

That some businesses have been waiting for Vista for a long time — with some staying with Windows 2000 — could also drive uptake, she said.

Adoption is likely to increase in the second half of the year, according to Ovum's Bradshaw. "I think we're likely to see more uptake in the second part of the year. I think it'll go faster than XP went," he said.

Microsoft is pleased with uptake so far.

David Weeks, Windows client marketing manager, said: "It's going extremely well. It's proving to be the fastest uptake of an operating system ever."

Weeks quoted Gartner figures predicting 4.6 percent of Windows business customers will have switched to Vista in the first year of its availability.

This compares with 2.6 percent for Windows 2000 in its first 12 months on the market.

But Weeks acknowledged there are issues affecting the speed of uptake for businesses. "Whenever we launch a new operating system, device drivers are the biggest issue," he said.

Weeks pointed out that 98 percent of devices are now supported by Vista — via some 30,000 drivers.

The analysts admit the uptake for consumer versions of Vista — launched on 31 January — has been faster due to the less complex issues.

Ian Fogg, analyst at Jupiter, said: "Despite a lot of hype surrounding Vista's teething problems, the reality is Windows Vista is the standard consumer operating system."

However, Fogg added: "Windows XP isn't going to go away any time soon. It's really very early days on the consumer side."

According to Gartner figures, 55 percent of new consumer computers sold in 2007 will have Vista pre-installed. This compares to 41 percent with XP, three per cent with Apple's OS and one percent with Linux.

But by the end of the second quarter, Gartner's Jump predicts the percentage of PCs with Vista pre-installed will have rocketed to 96 percent.

Topics: Tech Industry

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