Upgrade to Vista, Office 2007 and Server 2008?

By Jason W. Eckert

When I speak with people working within IT at various organization, I often ask detailed questions about the technologies that they implement. This is because educators such as myself always need to see “the big IT picture”. It allows us to modify our lectures to emphasize topics that are more important to industry in our classroom as well as gives us the ability to modify our programs over time.

Over the past year, I have spoken with hundreds of IT professionals in various industries. And I have found out that most organizations have adopted Server Virtualization (usually VMWare) and Open Source technologies over the past year. In addition, SQL and Exchange Server knowledge continue to be hot skills required in most organizations. However, when I ask about plans to upgrade workstations to Windows Vista and Office 2007, I usually get a strange glare as if I had lobsters crawling out of my nose. In short, most organizations plan to stick with Windows XP as their client platform for the next long while. Only a few organizations have upgraded to Office 2007. Many tell me that they are likely to upgrade to Office 2007 before they upgrade to Windows Vista. On the server side, many administrators tell me that they have installed evaluation copies of Windows Server 2008 for learning, but have no plans to implement it soon. One IT administrator even told me that for cost, support and hardware reasons, his company is “staying away from Vista like The Plague.”

This relates well with the IT job market – it is rare to find Windows Vista or Server 2008 in any job ad for IT in Ontario. Most job ads list Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 as necessary skillsets. In addition, while most colleges teach Windows Vista, the skills in a Windows Vista course can be applied (for the most part) to Windows XP. Due to the late release of Windows Server 2008 and the usual delay in certification programs and good course materials, many colleges will not offer Windows Server 2008 until later this year or in 2009. Perhaps by then, IT job ads will list those skills more frequently.

What does that mean for those worried about upgrading their skillset? Well, for most organizations, Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 certification may not be in demand until next year or even later. For current IT professionals, I would recommend that you wait until next year to think about Vista and Server 2008 certification. For those who are currently taking a college program, it is probably a good idea to get certified in Windows Vista before entering the workforce such that you don’t need to do it down the road, but also emphasize Windows XP skills on a resume.

I am interested to hear your opinions on upgrading to Vista, Office 2007 and Server 2008. Does your organization currently use or plan to use these technologies in the near future? Do you see IT job ads that require these skills in your area? Post a comment to this blog and let me know what you think.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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