Will Vista cause a switch to Macs, Linux?

Silicon.com's CIO jury rules on whether the cost of upgrading to Windows Vista will force more organizations to evaluate alternatives including Apple Macs and Linux PCs for the desktop.
Written by Andy McCue, Contributor
The cost of upgrading to Windows Vista is forcing more organizations to evaluate alternatives including Apple Macs and Linux for the desktop.

Half of silicon.com's 12-strong CIO Jury IT user panel said the Vista factor is likely to lead to an increase in Macs on the desktop in the corporate computing environment.

That echoes the comments of Capital & Regional CIO Richard Snooks who said in an interview with silicon.com this week that given the cost of being "railroaded" by Microsoft onto Vista, Macs are now "smarter money".

Nicholas Bellenberg, IT director at publisher Hachette Filipacchi UK, said his company runs lots of Macs with good cross-platform compatibility with Microsoft applications--though he added Entourage on the Mac doesn't match Outlook on the PC for functionality.

Bellenberg said open source is another serious alternative on the desktop. He said: "What I would also expect is that there will also be more people trying out Ubuntu Linux and the like. If fellow CIOs haven't checked this out, they should do. Perhaps it's obvious but the quality of open source desktop software has come on no-end since I last reviewed it."

But Gavin Whatrup, group IT director at marketing agency Creston, said the cost of Apple hardware is still a barrier preventing more widespread deployment of Macs.

He said: "With a mid-range Mac still being approximately 33 per cent more expensive than its Dell equivalent, don't expect a mass migration to the Mac any time soon. OS X may be improving but it still has a long way to go to be as heterogeneously robust as Windows XP."

Graham Yellowley, director of technology services at investment bank Mitsubishi UFJ Securities International, said the mass population will stay with the PC due to the number of applications that work with the hardware and operating system.

He said: "There would have to be a seismic shift in total cost of ownership to force a number of companies to jump from PC to Mac. The cost of transition is another barrier to wholesale change."

Increasing adoption of thin-client infrastructures is also tipped to have an impact on the desktop. Mark Devine, IT director at ACCA, said: "The end-points will become less important but thin devices will prevail especially in those organizations that have refresh strategy and treat PCs as revenue rather than capital items."

For public sector organizations national procurement frameworks and contracts can also be a barrier to moving away from the standard Windows desktop environment.

Alan Shrimpton, head of IS at Avon and Somerset Constabulary, said: "Many of our applications are mandated on us by existing national contracts and they are all based on a Windows desktop. However, from a personal perspective, if I didn't have that constraint then I would certainly want to look at all of my desktop options including Apple Macs."

Today's CIO Jury was...

Florentin Albu, ICT manager, EUMETSAT
Alastair Behenna, CIO, Harvey Nash
Nicholas Bellenberg, IT director, Hachette Filipacchi UK
Mark Devine, IT director, ACCA
Michael Elliot, IT director, Hasbro
Steve Gediking, head of IT & facilities, Independent Police Complaints Commission
Christopher Linfoot, IT director, LDV Group
Jacques Rene, CTO, Ascend Aerospace
Alan Shrimpton, Avon and Somerset Constabulary
Robert Wharton, CIO, Colt Telecom
Gavin Whatrup, group IT director, Creston
Graham Yellowley, director of technology services, Mitsubishi UFJ Securities International

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