So here I am, gathering requirements from the various school principles and power users around the district as we really flesh out plans for a tech refresh (exactly what software do we need to support and why, who could use mobile computing, where could a smartboard or projector enhance instruction, etc.). Suddenly, into my inbox comes a request that laptops for the administrators run Windows XP.
Hmmmm. In about 5 days, Windows XP as we know it is dead. Sure, Microsoft will keep supporting it and, if you're using a netbook, you can still get Windows XP Home, but Windows XP Pro (the only flavor of XP worth using) is gone. Bye Bye. Let it go. Move on. Trust me, the purchase orders for this tech refresh aren't going out by June 30th. It's not even FY09 yet.
So if anyone in my district wants a new computer, and they want Windows, they'll be using Vista Business. We all know I'm not Vista's number one fan. I don't like root canals either, but as long as I keep consuming ridiculous quantities of energy drinks to stay conscious, root canals will probably continue to have a place in my life. So will Windows Vista.
OK, so Vista isn't as bad as a root canal and it's a heck of a lot prettier. But the point remains, that when people fire up their new computers for the first time expecting "Windows" and are greeted with the Wow of Vista, I don't want anyone saying I didn't warn them.
We all do have to move on eventually, right? Windows XP is a wizened, hobbling creature in computer years. Most experts agree that Vista is generally more secure than XP and I simply can't rationalize placing an outdated OS that rolls out the red carpet for malware on new computers. Most major Linux distros see new releases every 6-12 months. Mac OS sees relatively frequent updates, as well (here's to Snow Leopard, by the way: May the Apple gods lock down the OS and kill the growing body of malware associated with increasing market share).
So even if I could, I still wouldn't downgrade to XP. Is Vista more usable than XP? I don't think so. Does it increase productivity over XP? I haven't seen anything along those lines happen yet. Will it keep machines running reliably for longer in between reimaging and include better tools for system restoration when things do go wrong? Probably. And that's what this really comes down to: giving users a platform they trust (namely Windows, for right or wrong, better or worse) that satisfies their requirements and ensures manageability on my end.