Survey: 30% Of Businesses Have No Plans To Upgrade To Windows Vista - InformationWeek

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Software // Enterprise Applications

Survey: 30% Of Businesses Have No Plans To Upgrade To Windows Vista

Concerns about compatibility and cost are driving less-than-stellar adoption rates, despite security enhancements in the new operating system.

In the latest sign that Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system may be destined for less than overwhelming commercial success, a new InformationWeek survey has found that nearly one third of businesses don't plan on upgrading their computers to the much-hyped software.

Tech professionals at the businesses surveyed were asked the following question: "When, if ever, does your company plan to purchase and install Windows Vista?"

One quarter of the 612 survey respondents said they were already using the new operating system; 13% said they would do so in the next 12 months; and 27% said their companies would adopt Windows Vista more than one year from now.

But in what will surely be viewed as disappointing news at Microsoft headquarters, a full 30% of those surveyed said they had no plans to upgrade their systems to Windows Vista -- not ever.

"While security enhancements remain the primary reason for companies to adopt Windows Vista, concerns about compatibility and cost are still out there," wrote survey author Lisa Smith, InformationWeek's managing editor for research.

Indeed, Windows Vista compatibility issues are causing numerous headaches for Microsoft and its tech industry partners.

A number of major federal agencies, including NASA, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the Federal Aviation Administration, have all decided to forgo -- at least for now -- moving their desktop systems from Windows XP to Windows Vista, in part because some of their current business applications won't function properly on the operating system.

Some prestigious universities, such as MIT and Stanford, also have shelved Windows Vista upgrades until compatibility issues can be resolved.

Meanwhile, consumer demand for Windows XP -- Windows Vista's predecessor -- recently forced computer maker Dell to reintroduce the older Microsoft operating system as an option on its home systems.

Dell provided few details about the move, but many PC buyers have reported serious compatibility issues between Windows Vista and their favorite applications and hardware products.

One disgruntled tech enthusiast recently established a Web site with an eye to garnering support for a class action suit against graphics card manufacturer Nvidia. The consumer, Dan Goldman of New York City, charges that Nvidia's claim that its products are Windows Vista compatible are false.

What's behind Vista's compatibility gap? Microsoft has acknowledged that rewriting Windows XP applications for Windows Vista is a more difficult task than what faced independent software developers when they had to port their products to Windows XP from Windows 2000 and Windows ME in 2001.

The trouble is in part due to advanced Windows Vista security features such as BitLocker and the User Account Control -- designed to prevent users from changing their desktop footprint without approval from an IT administrator. Coding applications to work with those features can be tricky, Microsoft has said.

Heavy system requirements also may be causing business and consumers to shy away from Windows Vista, at least for now. To experience all of Vista's features, PC users need a computer with at least a 1-GHz processor, 1 Gbyte of memory, and a 40-Gbyte hard drive. That's far beyond what's required for routine business computing tasks such as word processing, running a spreadsheet, or sending e-mails.

By contrast, Windows XP Professional requires only a 300-MHz processor, 128 Mbytes of RAM, and a 1.5-Gbyte disk.

Businesses may thus see little reason to buy expensive new computers just to run Windows Vista, when their current systems are fully capable of getting the job done.

Windows Vista held a 2.04% share of the operating system market as of the end of March -- two months after the software was released for sale to the general public. Windows XP held an 83.57% share as of March 30, according to Net Applications.

Despite the ominous signs, Microsoft insists that Windows Vista is selling well. It recently stated that it sold 20 million Windows Vista licenses in the product's first month of availability, compared with 17 million Windows XP sales in that OS's first two months on the market.

More insight into Windows Vista's early sales performance could be revealed when Microsoft reports third quarter earnings on Thursday. The full version of InformationWeek's Windows Vista survey is slated for release in early May.

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