One of the London Underground's maintenance companies is offering its employees £17 copies of Microsoft Office 2007 for personal use at home, in preparation for its migration to Windows Vista.
Tube Lines, a private company that has the maintenance and infrastructure upgrade contract for the Northern, Piccadilly and Jubilee lines, is planning to move from Windows XP Service Pack 1 (SP1) to the Vista operating system in late 2008.
In order to familiarise its staff with the new interface used by Office 2007, Tube Lines is taking advantage of Microsoft's Home Use Program — giving staff copies of the Office 2007 Professional suite for a fee of £17 to cover the cost of media, postage and packaging. The suite usually costs more than £350.
Adrian Davey, the company's head of IT, told ZDNet.co.uk on Wednesday that giving its employees copies of Office 2007 would make next year's transition smoother. "One thing we looked at was how to engage employees around the change process," he said. "We are targeting take-up of about 70 percent, as surveys told us 93 percent of our staff have home PCs. Nine months before people start to use the software at Tube Lines, if they could use it at home then the change process is being done for them rather than to them."
Tube Lines will also be rolling out a hardware refresh alongside its 2,500-employee migration to Vista.
Asked why Tube Lines was moving to Vista directly from XP SP1, Davey said that application compatibility testing, conducted using Camwood's Apptitude software, had shown that "more of [Tube Lines'] applications were compatible with Vista than with XP SP2".
"We have a fantastic relationship with Microsoft," said Davey. "We are very strong around going green and measuring our carbon footprint, and Vista can help us around power savings on PCs. When we looked at the cost of ownership of Vista versus XP SP2, Vista made economic sense for us."
Vista, which was released to business users a year ago, has received criticism for its processing demands and lack of compatibility with some programmes and equipment.
The first Vista service pack is expected to emerge in the first half of next year, as is XP SP3. In recent testing of the betas of both service packs, XP SP3 was revealed to have twice the performance of Vista SP1.