Telco iiNet expects to commence rolling out Microsoft's next-generation Windows Vista and Office 2007 products to its internal desktop fleet in the middle of next year.
"We're part of the rapid deployment program. So we're actually trialling it already -- I've got a laptop with them sitting on the desk in front of me," iiNet chief information officer David Dans told ZDNet Australia via telephone this week.
"We expect the rollout will commence ... probably starting in August of 2007. We've actually already got a limited rollout on the current release of Vista and Office 2007."
iiNet has some 600-700 PCs spread across four locations in Australia and New Zealand.
Dans said iiNet had to do some work on its back-end systems before the company would be ready to implement the new Microsoft software.
Dans anticipates the upgraded tools in Vista will deliver a reduction in the administrative overhead of supporting iiNet's desktop fleet. In addition, he is looking forward to working with Vista's new security framework.
In terms of Office 2007, Dans believes Microsoft's existing Office products were getting "a bit tired". "There's some challenges in Excel and a few other things that it's simply not up to," he said.
For example, in iiNet's testing Excel 2007 has proved "substantially faster" than its predecessors. Dans said Office 2007 seemed also to be taking a lot more advantage of dual-core CPUs if they were available.
That testing has led iiNet to standardise on dual-core CPUs on Vista-capable machines for all of its new desktop purchases outside of its call centres, which don't use CPU-intensive applications.
"I think the payback period's going to be incredibly short on that, just in terms of working with a large spreadsheet or something like that," Dans said of the dual-core decision.
iiNet is so far part of a relatively small group of large Australian organisations keen to adopt Vista, Office 2007 and/or Microsoft's collaboration suite Exchange 2007.
However, many organisations have now changed their purchasing policies to make sure any new desktop machines they buy will be able to run Vista when they eventually migrate to the new operating system.