Vista Adoption Far From a Done Deal

What a difference a few days can make.

Last week, analysis firm Forrester Research released a report suggesting deployments of Vista inside enterprises were about to take off after a year in the doldrums.

However, another analysis firm, King Research, on Monday released the results of its own survey, which shows 90 percent of IT staffers have concerns about migrating to Vista.

The newest report, which King conducted earlier this month for systems management appliance vendor KACE, also found that “44 percent of companies have considered deploying non-Windows operating systems to avoid Vista migration with 9 percent of those already in the process of switching.”

That’s a far cry from the Forrester report, which found that while only 2 percent of PCs in enterprises are running Vista so far, 7 percent of IT staffers have plans to begin deploying it by year’s end.

Additionally, the Forrester survey, which was conducted in spring, indicated that 32 percent expect to have deployments well underway by the end of 2008. Overall, the survey found that nearly 50 percent have concrete plans for Vista deployment.

Meanwhile, the King survey found that only 13 percent of respondents have firm plans to deploy Vista at all.

One factor in the surveys’ disagreement may be the long-awaited Service Pack 1 (SP1) update for Vista, which is due in the first quarter of 2008.

When discussing the seemingly slow uptake of Vista among enterprises so far, many analysts cite the conventional wisdom that businesses do not consider a new Windows release stable or bug-free until Microsoft releases its first Service Pack.

“That would certainly be in keeping with the old strategy that people tend to shy away from the first release of a Microsoft product,” Dwight Davis, vice president at researcher Ovum Summit, told

As a result, it’s unclear whether King’s survey respondents will revisit their opinion of Vista once SP1 is released. Microsoft issued a “preview” release candidate to about 15,000 testers last week.

King Research based its figures on a survey of 961 e-mailed responses from IT staffers that included a fairly even split between front-line IT professionals, IT managers, and IT executives. Forrester, in comparison, interviewed 565 PC decision-makers across North American and European enterprises.

While their differences in design make it difficult to compare the surveys on an apples-to-apples basis, the two reports still offer at least one intriguing point of convergence. The King survey found that 53 percent of respondents have no current plans to deploy Vista, whereas the Forrester report found 52 percent with no plans.

However, the two disagreed on another key point. Respondents in the King survey found that “Macintosh is the most likely operating system to be deployed in place of Vista (28 percent) followed by Red Hat Linux (23 percent).”

The Forrester report, on the other hand, found only 1 percent of PCs in enterprises currently run Linux, while Mac OS usage didn’t register on the scale.

King Research’s findings, meanwhile, suggest that the growing impact of virtualization may account for a large portion of enterprises’ willingness to leave Windows as the decade continues, KACE CEO Rob Meinhardt told

Some 45 percent of respondents in the King Research survey said that system management challenges currently prevent adoption of non-Windows operating systems. At the same time, 67 percent cited virtualization technologies as “a key enabling technology for adoption of alternative operating systems.”

Meinhardt’s translation: Virtualization may well solve a lot of those problems for enterprise customers interested in deploying other PC operating systems. Consequently, he said virtualization players like EMC’s VMware and Citrix’s XenSource may be the sleeping giants in Microsoft’s backyard.

“Ultimately, it’s possible that virtualization is the big winner,” Meinhardt said.

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