Experts divided on pace of Vista adoption

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With barely two days to go before the official launch of Microsoft Corp.’s much awaited Vista operating system (OS), the jury is still out on how quickly businesses will switch to the new product.

Analysts have expressed widely divergent views on this topic.

Vista will be available to enterprise users on November 30, and consumers will have a crack at the OS beginning January 2007.

A British analyst believes take up will be rapid.

Pent-up demand will boost adoption up to 15 per cent within the Vista’s first year of release according to David Mitchell, software practice leader at technology advisory firm Ovum Ltd. based in London, England.

“That would make it the fastest-moving operating system ever,” said Mitchell.

He noted that only between 12 to 14 per cent of users switched to Windows XP within the first year of its release.

However, att least one Canadian analyst believes enterprise users will move more cautiously because of training and interoperability considerations.

“Fifteen per cent is realistic but it is really too early to tell what the pace of adoption will be,” said Carmi Levy, senior research analyst for Info-Tech Research Group Ltd. in London, Ont.

Levy said not a few companies will probably wait and see how the software works for other organizations and conduct trials themselves to determine what sort of impact Vista will have on their operations. “OS migrations are a significant event for companies.”

Vista has several key advantages over the Windows XP such as beefed up security features and consolidated administrative features that make the new OS easier to manage.

Levy said it usually takes companies 12 to 18 months to accomplish a full roll out of a new OS.

Yet, the Info-Tech analyst said “companies won’t be switching just because the software is being sold. They’ll balance these advantages against the cost of migration.”

The Canadian analyst said the same could be said for Microsoft’s Office 2007.

Levy said Office 2007 offers dramatic improvements over the previous version of the software such as a transparent three-dimensional graphical interface. Office 2007 also has so-called “ribbons”, which replace the traditional drop down menus and offer greater access to the application’s functions.

Ironically, it’s there very enhancements that could temporarily hold back adoption, according to Levy.

“Enterprise users will have to consider training employees on Office 2007. Early adaptors also have to investigate how external constituents, not using the software, will handle Office 2007 files,” said Levy.

“It’s not something you purchase in the morning and get up and running by lunch time,” he said.

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