After more than three years in the making, Microsoft will launch Windows Vista to corporate users around the globe on Thursday.
The software giant's first major upgrade to its operating system since Windows XP makes its long-awaited debut together with Office 2007 and Exchange Server 2007. It has been a long time coming. Details for the new Windows release, initially code-named Longhorn, were first unveiled at an October 2003 developer conference.
Yet that hasn't stymied Microsoft's plans for making Vista more successful than its predecessor, Windows XP. In the intervening years since 2003 Microsoft has been promoting enhancements such as a new graphics engine and user interface as well as improvements in security and manageability.
For the local announcement in Sydney, Microsoft Australia has gathered its top executives including vice president, Microsoft Australia and New Zealand, Steve Vamos, and director of the Windows group, Jeff Putt, as well as partners Toshiba, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and the NSW Department of Education and Training (DET).
Earlier this month, Brad Goldberg, general manager for Windows product management (in the US), said that Microsoft expected that usage share of the OS will be double that of XP.
"Vista is built for business," Goldberg said. "We're giving businesses the tools they need to get out of the gate faster with Vista ... Our goal is to have twice as fast deployment of Vista than for any other operating system."
And while the message has sunk in with a handful from the education sector who have moved swiftly to embrace the new OS, a majority of chief information officers and administrators who have spoken to ZDNet Australia are no in rush to roll out Vista.
Tim Anderson, NSW DET Information Services Director, believes that after more than eight months of beta testing Vista there is no compelling business case to migrate its hardware to the new operating system.
In a recent interview, Anderson told ZDNet Australia that the decision to deploy Vista depended on implementation costs -- which includes licensing -- as well as the benefits delivered from migrating to the new OS.
However, he said that DET would roll out Vista to 1,000 seats which it was committed to under an early adopter program that the government department was a part of. But a mass adoption across DET's desktop fleet, at the time of publication, was still up in the air.
The NSW Department of Commerce is also taking a cautious approach. The department's general manager of Information Management and Technology, Geoff Tye, said back in August he had no "immediate plans to upgrade to Vista".
Sharam Hekmat, the CIO of global insurance firm Aviva in Australia, said that neither Window's Vista or Microsoft's update to its Office suite are very compelling.
The cost of Vista
However, not everyone has dismissed Vista. Many CIOs have admitted that while they won't rush ahead with an upgrade they will deploy the OS at some point in the future. Those who said they will eventually adopt Vista will wait until their hardware requires a refresh and Microsoft has released at least one service pack for the platform.
Macquarie University's Mary Sharp said early this month the institute would upgrade at a later date when the next version or release of the operating system was made available.
"I think you're flirting with danger with any product -- even Microsoft -- if you go for the first version when it's such a major leap in technology," Sharp said.
Maturity of the operating system aside, cost has also been flagged as an issue when considering a Vista upgrade.
Early this month the software maker revealed the business edition of Vista will cost AU$565, while the retail upgrade pricing (RRP) for Business Upgrade is AU$379.
The RRP for other Vista editions are:
- Home Basic Upgrade: AU$199
- Home Premium Upgrade Academic: AU$179
- Ultimate Upgrade: AU$495