Forrester Research is advising its clients against skipping Windows Vista when planning their operating system deployments. But one of the reasons Forrester is using -- because Vista's successor, Windows 7, will no doubt will be late -- is not a good assumption, in my book.
As crazy as this sounds, I don't think I'd count on Windows 7 being late -- even though Microsoft's track record for on-time Windows deliveries is abysmal. The primary reason: Steven Sinofsky. Sinofsky is the head of Windows and Windows Live Engineering. He used to run Office development. One of Sinofsky's biggest claims to fame is making the trains run on time.
Couple Sinofsky's track record with the fact that Windows 7 will likely be a minor upgrade to Vista, plus the fact that the Softies gave themselves quite a bit of extra breathing room with the 2010 due date, and I'd say it's more likely Windows 7 will ship early than late.
Forrester's guidance was part of a pair of Vista-related studies the market-research outfit released on April 16. (Neither of these was based on a survey of a set group of customers; both were "anecdotal, based on discussions Forrester has had with its clients about their plans," a company representative noted.)
In "Lessons Learned From Early Adopters Of Windows Vista: How Businesses Can Overcome The Most Common Migration Challenges," Forrester Researcher Benjamin Gray offers business users a checklist to help with Vista migrations. On the shortlist are a number of common-sense tips, including "Tie the OS upgrade to your natural PC refresh cycle to ensure hardware compatibility" and "Stay on top of your independent software vendors to ensure application compatibility."
In the other report, "Building The Business Case For Windows Vista: Five Reasons to Start Your Migration Soon," Gray advises business users against waiting for Windows 7 and expecting to jump from an older Windows release directly to Windows 7, which Microsoft has said it will ship in 2010.
Forrester claims that "for large businesses, there’s no viable alternative" to moving to Vista. "According to our latest hardware survey, Microsoft operating systems are powering 99% of North American and European enterprise PCs and 97% of small to medium-size business (SMB) PCs," Gray said. Gray decribed Mac OSX and Linux as alternatives for specific niches only.
Gray said the availability of Vista SP1, plus Microsoft's decision to phase out XP on the bulk of new PCs, as of July 1, also were good reasons companies should plan on moing to Vista. Windows 7 is largely an unknown, at this point, Gray argued:
"To be blunt, customers know very little about Windows 7. Besides when it’s slated to become available, they know that it’s going to be a full release. Meaning? It’s going to have a business version and a consumer version — and knowing Microsoft, multiple versions of each. It’s also going to support both 32- and 64-bit computing. Beyond these tidbits, everything else is pure rumor and speculation. But it’s important to keep in mind that Microsoft doesn’t exactly have a clean track record for delivering products on time. It also tends to strip out promised features in order to hit deadlines (e.g., WinFS from Windows Vista). Ironically, one of Microsoft’s biggest weaknesses — the unpredictable release schedule of its desktop operating systems — will likely spur adoption of Windows Vista as a result of this lack of faith in Microsoft delivering Windows 7 on time."
There's no question that most customers have next-to-no real information on Windows 7. But do you agree with Forrester that the devil you know (Vista) is better than the one you don't (Windows 7)?