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Windows XP To Windows 7 A Risky Path, Microsoft Warns

Customers that don't deploy Windows Vista are missing out on proven benefits such as better security, productivity, search, mobility, and manageability, says a Microsoft executive.

Businesses that skip Windows Vista and upgrade their computers directly from the XP operating system to Windows 7 could expose themselves to security risks and other problems, Microsoft says in a new white paper.

Bypassing Vista could have "implications for security, support, and regulatory compliance and reduce flexibility in the face of changing business requirements," writes Microsoft VP Mike Nash, in the paper.

Specifically, Nash says that businesses that wait for Windows 7 -- set for release in late 2009 or early 2010 -- to upgrade from XP could find themselves using outdated applications that don't employ proper security safeguards or are no longer supported.

They also won't get the advantage of new security technologies and other improvements that Microsoft embedded in Vista, Nash says. "By not deploying Windows Vista, it means missing out on the proven benefits such as better security, productivity, search, mobility, manageability and infrastructure optimization," Nash says in the paper, which is titled "The Business Value Of Windows Vista."

Nash also says that it's pointless to allow concerns about compatibility with older applications to forestall a Vista upgrade -- because those same incompatibilities will exist in Windows 7. "Customers who are still using Windows XP when Windows 7 releases will have a similar application compatibility experience moving to Windows 7 as exists moving to Windows Vista from Windows XP," says Nash.

That's because Windows 7 uses many of the same core technologies that Microsoft first employed in Vista, he says.

Nash's plea may be in response to the fact that, a full year-and-a-half after its debut, few enterprises have deployed Vista widely.

Symantec chief operating officer Enrique Salem recently told InformationWeek that only a small percentage of the security software company's large business customers have upgraded their corporate PCs to Vista.

"For the most part, we're not seeing it," said Salem, in an interview. Salem said most of Symantec's enterprise customers continue to run their systems on the older Windows XP operating system because "they're not yet comfortable with Vista."

The lukewarm embrace given Vista may be starting to impact Microsoft's bottom line. The company in April revealed that third-quarter sales of Windows licenses plunged 24%, compared with the previous year.

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