The University of Western Sydney (UWS) has prepped itself for a Windows Vista roll-out while many in the industry are getting ready for the arrival of Microsoft's next operating system in line, Windows 7.
According to the university's director of IT Michael Houlahan, the upgrade will commence in June this year. Work leading to the upgrade, such as the installation of the required back-end infrastructure and testing of application capability has been going on for most of the last year, he told ZDNet.com.au.
Houlahan believed it made sense to roll out Vista, despite the much publicised approach of the newer version Windows 7.
"We are aware of Windows 7 — but based on the adage that there is never a good time to carry out a major upgrade like this one, we decided to proceed with Vista given the amount of work we've already put into it," Houlahan said.
"Many of our students are using Vista on their own computers and we think it more important to achieve alignment with them rather than keep XP any longer than we have to (ie, by waiting an extra year or so for Windows 7)," he continued.
He said he had received no incentives from Microsoft to upgrade to the newer operating system in front of upgrading to Windows 7. He pointed out that as yet there was no clear release date for Windows 7, and that most people would say that any new Windows version should be avoided until the release of the first Service Pack.
"We waited quite some time before proceeding with Vista — so don't feel that deferring Windows 7 for another couple of years will hurt us."
He believed that the university had a mature standard operating environment which would help the switch to Vista and, when the time came, the switch to Windows 7.
On 9 January this year, the first official beta of Windows 7 was released to general praise from reviewers and the public.
Welfare agency Centrelink has praised the early versions of Windows 7, saying they show a jump in quality over the much-maligned Vista, and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia has examined the software but is yet to formally test it. The National Australia Bank has said it is seriously testing it, under the software giant's Application Compatibility Factory.
However, the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, which is one of the only large Australian organisations to have rolled out Vista, said it had no plans to upgrade to Windows 7. The Department of Defence has also said it has not been testing the operating system, the Australian Taxation Office said it wasn't planning a move and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship said it had not seriously examined the software, but had considered it.
Other UWS plans
Along with the Vista release in June, UWS's Houlahan will also start upgrading the university to Office 2007. A move to Exchange 2007 will also take place later in the year.
The university had been considering moving to SharePoint 2007, running a trial on a pilot group, but a lack of funding meant that a university roll-out couldn't occur this year.
Another project just over the horizon might be the switch from internal to external email for students. Houlahan said the university had decided "in principle" to move the students to either Gmail or Microsoft's Live@edu, but hadn't decided which one yet.