Vista or Windows 7? Just get rid of XP, Microsoft tells users

Vista or Windows 7? Just get rid of XP, Microsoft tells users

Summary: Microsoft's latest Windows deployment guidance for business users has morphed from the overly simplistic "Don't wait for Windows 7." The new corporate advice is more nuanced and more dependent on where users are currently in their deployment cycles. But the bottom-line message is whether you decide to go with Vista or wait for Windows 7 is less important than getting off Windows XP.

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Microsoft's latest Windows deployment guidance for business users has morphed from the overly simplistic "Don't wait for Windows 7."

The company's new corporate advice is more nuanced and more dependent on where users are currently in their deployment cycles. But the bottom-line message is whether you decide to go with Vista or wait for Windows 7 is less important than getting off Windows XP.

When I wrote last week about the pending arrival of the "perfect Windows storm," some readers claimed I was complicating matters and that the choice of Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7 was clear-cut for business users.

This week, Microsoft officials themselves admitted that users are confused and looking for guidance as to which Windows client version they should be targeting in their near-term deployments. To try to clarify things, the company is updating its Windows guidance for business users.

In the inaugural post on February 11 on the newly minted "Windows for Your Business" blog, Gavriella Schuster, Senior Director for Windows Commercial Product Management, offered a more detailed check list for business customers who are planning their Windows roadmaps:

  • If you are running Windows 2000 in your environment: Migrate your Windows 2000 PCs to Windows Vista as soon as possible. Extended support for Windows 2000 ends Q2 2010, and as an enterprise customer, you may soon find your business’s critical applications are unsupported.
  • If you are in the process of planning or deploying Windows Vista: Continue your Windows Vista SP1 deployment. If you’re really in the early stages or just starting on Windows Vista, plan to test and deploy Windows Vista SP2 (on target to RTM Q2 2009). Moving onto Windows Vista now will allow for an easier transition to Windows 7 in the future due to the high degree of compatibility.
  • If you are on Windows XP now and are undecided about which OS to move to: Make sure you taken into consideration the risk of skipping Windows Vista, which I am discussing below. And know that deploying Windows Vista now will make the future transition to Windows 7 easier.
  • If you are on Windows XP now and are waiting for Windows 7: Make sure you take into consideration the risks of skipping Windows Vista, and plan on starting an early evaluation of Windows 7 for your company using the beta that’s available now. Testing and remediating applications on Windows Vista will ease your Windows 7 deployment due to the high degree of compatibility.

Given an estimated 71 percent of business PCs are still running XP, Microsoft's advice to upgrade from XP isn't overly surprising. The biggest competitor to Vista and/or Windows 7 isn't Linux or Mac OS X; it's XP.

Schuster said she has been talking to several business users every week for the last couple of months and is hearing the same questions over and over again. Is moving to Vista -- with Windows 7 in the wings -- futile at this point? Is Vista another "Windows Millennium" -- an operating system Microsoft quickly backed and then abandoned, heading off in another direction with Windows XP? If customers already have started Vista deployments, should business customers abandon them and prep for Windows 7 instead?

"I'm not advocating Vista or 7. I'm just saying they should be getting off XP," Schuster told me when we chatted earlier this week.

Microsoft is retiring XP SP2 support in April 2009; XP SP3 support isn't going away until 2014. (Microsoft isn't advising business customers to count on SP3 to extend the life of their existing operating systems. Why patch again an operating system originally introduced in 2001? Schuster quipped. I suggested containing costs might be one reason....) Plus, Schuster argued, a number of app vendors are phasing out support for their XP applications.

"Typical enterprise organizations tend to have between 500 and 5,000 different applications deployed across their environments," Schuster said. "Users need to find out how long these apps will be supported on XP and when (ISVs) are planning to certify the new versions of these apps on Windows 7."

In the interim, she said, business users should shell out for MDOP, Microsoft's Desktop Optimization Pack -- a collection of deployment and virtualization tools designed to make running legacy apps and migrating to new OS releases easier. (MDOP is available for purchase by Software Assurance volume licensees only.)

XP users: With IT budgets being slashed, what's your latest upgrade game plan? Are you going to move to Vista any time soon? Wait for Win 7? Or is it XP SP3, here you come?

Topics: Operating Systems, Microsoft, Software, Windows

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • With SP1, Vista (64-bit) has been quite nice.

    Win7 has promise, but having been burned by Microsoft's effective ditching of the promises made for Ultimate (retail, not OEM), I'm going to be hard pressed to upgrade and go through all that again.

    With enough RAM, Vista is pretty darn good and depending on the benchmarks you read, it's going to be faster or slower or "no difference". Plenty of them out there. It suffers with games, but for productivity apps it seems to fare better. And is remarkably stable (64-bit).

    How will upgrading to Win7 help me? How did the footprint get lowered to XP's size? Was superfetch dropped? Or the whole Vista core, in favor of starting over (again) with XP's core?

    I have toyed with Win7 beta -- not bad, I must say, but it's going to take a lot to convince me to upgrade again, and many people have stuck with XP because of existing bias (just due or otherwise; a lot of flak wasn't deserved, but some was).
    HypnoToad
    • ...

      win7 is better than vista, end of story. win 7 can work just fine with 512 mb ram with full aero, i can attest to that. and the fact thats its the first OS to be multi-touch ready means that the animations are a lot smoother, and its a lot easier to use (multi touch systems have to be in order to cope with not having the standard interface). i am an avid linux user and overall linux fan and i can say that win 7 is really good. it should do well when the final comes out.
      Zlatko.Lakisic
      • Impressive.

        Time will tell; as long as my current apps work in it - some of which are high end - what the heck. :)
        HypnoToad
        • High end apps...

          I've got some rather expensive SCADA applications that won't install in 7.

          Oddly enough, it isn't because it's a 64 bit OS, but rather because they look for DirectX 9 on the machine, and, as you probably already know, Win 7 has DirectX 10.

          Hallowed are the Ori
          • Nothing stopping you

            from installing and using Directx 9 as well.
            rtk
          • Maybe...

            ..but I'm afraid it would bork the whole machine if I did.

            I'm not saying it would, mind you, just that I am concerned that it would.
            Hallowed are the Ori
          • for sure

            installed the latest directx 9 onto win7 to support a couple games. No issues.
            rtk
          • I would agree

            I've got some hi-end recording apps that are incompatable with Vista...and then there's Bioshock. hahah
            billbryan516
          • "and then there's bioshock"

            Not sure what that's supposed to mean. Started Bioshock on Vista and finished it just the other day on win7.
            rtk
          • Started Bioshock...

            on linux and finished it on linux. So?
            Dave32265
          • sweet

            not sure what Bioshock running under Linux has to do with billbryan516 suggesting that Bioshock wouldn't run under Win7, but thanks anyway.

            rtk
          • Better shell out some more money on MS's say so then ;-)

            Oh yeah, and jump when they say jump.
            fr0thy2
        • The real question is hardware compat

          MS's recommendation to get off of Win2000 and use Vista is crazy. There are virtually no Win2000-era computers capable of running Vista at all, much less with any speed. Businesses will be replacing all that hardware. In an economic downturn, don't expect that to happen.

          I agree that they should, though. Win2000 and WinXP have scary security models which are partly fixed by Vista and Win7. The sooner XP disappears, the sooner the network becomes a quieter place.

          Win7 works pretty well, especially in low memory situations. It can run four normal apps in ~450 MB RAM. It boots in ~90 seconds and shuts down in ~20 seconds.

          Unfortunately, Ubuntu 9.04 Alpha4 destroys Win7 Beta in every one of these metrics (except Windows compatibility). http://blog.ibeentoubuntu.com/2009/02/ubuntu-904-alpha4-vs-windows-7-beta.html
          daengbo
          • That's correct

            "MS's recommendation to get off of Win2000 and use Vista is crazy. There are virtually no Win2000-era computers capable of running Vista at all, much less with any speed. Businesses will be replacing all that hardware. In an economic downturn, don't expect that to happen."

            Isn't Microsoft starting to expand to hardware? Kinda makes you think the next sentence after "you need to upgrade to Vista or 7" will be, "and if your computers won't support either, we can help you there too."

            library assistant
          • nope, no hardware

            MS makes a few (very good) mice and keyboards, and that's about it.

            The conspiracy theory doesn't hold water.
            rtk
    • My Vista is not fixable and there was no application manual.

      When my XP SP2 goes and they stop production out of spite for the poor in attention span; I'll save a lot of cash in the future like now. Total Windows spending "Lifetime" is $1,120.00 just for software one person. Hardware: $2,400.00 computers and $710 video graphics cards. Games: $145.00.
      rtirman37@...
      • Still cheaper than a Mac

        ]:)
        MGP2
        • "Cheaper" has soooo many meanings and they all

          seem to apply:P

          Pagan jim
          James Quinn
          • Well there is "Cheap"...

            ...And "Inexpensive"

            I like the latter term. Cheap usually means "common" - "Inexpensive" means Quality with a lower price tag.
            XweAponX
        • Yeah, but...

          OS X doesn't suck.
          rag@...