Vista migration plans unexpectedly ambitious

A survey of ZDNet UK readers shows that those who intend to upgrade to Vista plan to start soon — when they are are confident about stability, compatibility and drivers

A survey conducted by ZDNet UK indicates that a large proportion of businesses that plan to upgrade to Microsoft Vista intend to begin the process in the next six months — even if the full migration takes several years.

The online survey of 1,305 IT professionals, conducted last week, found that 46 percent of respondents have plans to upgrade their desktop operating systems and the vast majority of those, or 41 percent of all respondents, plan to upgrade to Microsoft Vista. Fifty-one percent of those who plan to upgrade to Vista said they would begin the process in the next six months, rising to 70 percent in the next 12 months.

Most of the Vista upgrades will be software-only, with just 18 percent of these companies upgrading their hardware at the same time, despite the extra horsepower required by Vista over Windows XP. "We have approximately 1,500 PCs deployed, all running W2000. We have hardware refreshes every three years, and this will be the impetus for starting the rollout of Vista on the machines to be retired in 2007," said one IT manager.

"We will upgrade toVista Business as soon as possible, and will install more memory as a minumum," an IT consultant told us. "We are considering upgrading the graphics card so that we can benefit from Aero [Vista's new look and feel]."

One system administrator said his company would only upgrade once all their 35,000 laptops are upgraded to Core 2 Duo processor machines with 2GB of Ram.

And despite the early start, many expect the migration to last some time. "We will create the pilot build asap in partnership with Microsoft and then do application compatibility testing for up to 12 months," said the IT manager of a large pharmaceutical company with over 10,000 desktops. "And then it will take 18 months to deploy across the global organisation."

A significant number of respondents who plan to upgrade to Vista say they are nervous about drivers, stability and compatibility with existing systems. One company with several tens of thousands of PCs, which have just been upgraded to Windows XP SP1, said compatibility will be the main issue, "followed by complexity and ease to upgrade".

Sixty-eight respondents said their companies have Linux in their upgrade plans, most of these being small businesses. One company said it is upgrading its several hundred PCs to Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 with "Novell Suse Enterprise provides all the means necessary to be the right choice for business purposes," said the respondent. "Windows Vista on the other hand makes it difficult to change the hardware and offers too many unnecessary features which are not used for business purpose and gives our staff too many reasons to waste time for checking out the new features. Furthermore the cost for upgrading to Vista and for maintaining the systems is much higher than with Suse".

The survey found a tiny number — just 15 — who have not upgraded to Windows XP, but these tended to be large organisations; six of them have annual IT budgets in excess of £10m. "We will be upgrading from Windows 2000 to Windows XP SP2. Vista does not appeal," said one, adding that the company he is working with is also upgrading Office 2000 to Office 2003. "That is all we need and it is proven. 300,000 desktops take a lot of managnig." Another said his company has similar plans for its several hundred PCs because "we are allowed XP and 2003 under our old MS Select agreement so that's all we get for free," despite a £1m-plus IT budget.

The survey also asked about office suite upgrades. About a third — 31 percent — of respondents said they have plans to upgrade their office suites, and of those, 85 percent includes Microsoft Office 2007 in their plans, 8.5 percent includes and only 1 percent includes Star Office, with a number still planning to upgrade to Office 2003.

Of those who plan to upgrade to Microsoft Office 2007, 55 percent say they will do so in the coming six months, 31 percent in the coming 12 months, 12 percent in the coming 24 months and 3 percent some time beyond 24 months. Of those who do not plan to upgrade to Microsoft Office 2007, a huge 48 percent cited cost as the reason.

The survey represents a significant number of desktops: 10 percent of respondents represent companies with over 10,000 desktops, and a total of 28 percent have over 1,000 desktops in their organisation. Thirteen percent of respondents have an IT budget of over £1m for 2007, with 6 percent controlling a budget of over £10m.