Adoption of Windows Vista has been mixed in schools. Quite a few universities have made the move; we, like many K-12 groups have purchased new machines running Vista, while others have completed full-blown migrations. In academics, as in business, however, plenty of schools have simply stuck with XP, seeing no incentives to move to a new, generally less popular, and occasionally troublesome OS.
Windows 7, it appears, though, will have virtualized XP running in at least some of its versions, ensuring legacy application compatibility. Will this be enough to finally get schools to make the switch to Microsoft's latest and greatest?
I really doubt it. Let me be clear: I know that a lot of schools (both university and K-12) will be upgrading to Windows 7. Beta reviews have been quite good and my own seat-of-the-pants impressions of 7 are that it's quite snappy; at the very least, out-of-the-box performance shouldn't be an issue for the new OS.
However, schools will be upgrading because XP is a dinosaur, not because Windows 7 will allow users to run XP in Virtual PC. It's time to move on to a more secure and stable OS with both modern inner workings as well as a modern interface. Whether that's some flavor of *nix or Windows 7, educational institutions need to leave XP behind.
Obviously, legacy applications tend to hang around in education a bit longer than they do in many business settings. How many teachers are still running that old Reader Rabbit CD that probably won't crank to life under Vista or 7? For these folks, virtualized XP will be a happy occurrence, but, quite frankly, shouldn't those teachers also be brought up to speed on modern, research-based classroom tools anyway?
For many schools, the move to Windows 7 simply won't happen because budgets have dried up completely and neither hardware nor software refreshes are happening. Where it does happen, it's not going to be because of virtualized XP.