Windows

Will your clients skip Windows Vista on their way to Windows 7?

Many experts recommend that users upgrade Windows XP systems to Windows Vista for a smoother migration to Windows 7. Find out why (for the most part) Susan Harkins doesn't agree.

 In December 2008, Stuart J. Johnston reported on InternetNews.com that nearly 50% of IT shops plan to skip Windows Vista and move straight to Windows 7. However, most experts recommend the Windows Vista route for a variety of reasons, which include:

  • Windows 7 is similar to Windows Vista, so users upgrading to Windows 7 directly from Windows Vista will need less time to adjust.
  • Organizations experiencing problems migrating to Windows Vista will experience similar problems if they upgrade to Windows 7 from Windows XP. So, they might as well work through those issues now.
  • You can keep users working on Windows XP while testing applications on Windows Vista. Later, the upgrade to Windows 7 should be reasonably trouble-free because you worked through incompatibility issues in Windows Vista.

On the other hand, as IT budgets shrink and Windows XP continues to get the job done, it will be almost impossible to justify the cost of upgrading to Windows Vista just to make it easier to migrate to Windows 7.

The deal breaker is Microsoft's decision not to offer migration tools for the upgrade. If you were hoping the trip to Windows 7 via Windows Vista would be less bumpy, you can just stay on the Windows XP stagecoach -- it won't make any difference.

If you recommend the Windows Vista route to your clients, be careful. In my opinion, the testing scenario is the only good reason to upgrade to Windows Vista if you haven't done so already. Without a sound business reason for doing so, clients might view your advice as an upgrade for the sake of upgrading. You really don't want your clients suspecting that you'd generate work just to benefit your bottom line. Selling clients on the Windows Vista upgrade without a business-related reason for doing so might be a hard sell.

When you upgrade your consulting client's Windows XP systems to Windows 7, will you upgrade to Windows Vista and then Windows 7? Or, will you be contrary and upgrade from Windows XP directly to Windows 7? I recommend that you skip Windows Vista, unless it solves a business problem for your consulting clients. Take these quick polls to let us know your clients' plans, as well as your recommendation to clients.

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About

Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

59 comments
zclayton2
zclayton2

of a laptop that came with it. I have been skipping vista and upgrading to linux. Ubuntu 8.10 just works.

mark_d_roller
mark_d_roller

After reading the three reasons to upgrade I conclude the "experts" are either paid by Microsoft or stand to make considerable consulting fees on Windows upgrades. I run a small IT shop for a non-profit organization with about ~45 Windows desktops and laptops. We have worked hard as an IT team to subject all our actions to a business-needs filter. We are not here for the sake of IT (although that would be fun!); we are here to ultimately serve the business needs of the organization. This is something Microsoft clearly has lost sight of. While new versions of Windows and Office are chuck full of new features, few of them provide any business value. And for those features that do add value my organization would gladly trade them for a version of Word that doesn't start "hiccupping" on large (75-100) page documents. The sad fact is that neither Vista nor Windows 7 provide material value for the organization I work for. We are skipping Vista and would skip Windows 7 if we could. Ultimately, we will be forced to upgrade because Microsoft will stop allowing XP on new PC?s. Isn't this crazy upside down? In what other business are the needs of the customer so blatantly ignored? Many replies here have spoken of Linux. I run Ubuntu at home, and like it, but view it still at the NT4 level from an OS maturity perspective for business use. MacOS is wonderful, but still a bridge too far in terms of cost, compatibility, and IT manageability (I know some Mac supporters will disagree). The sad fact is that business dollars built the Microsoft Empire. And Microsoft gave us a good solution with XP-SP2+, Office 2003, Server 2003, and Active Directory. But to keep cash coming in, to sustain the Empire, Microsoft must have upgrades, regardless if they provide any value to its largest customer base. I could send a letter to Microsoft telling them we will no longer spend money on upgrades until they provide business value commensurate with the upgrade cost, but what good would that do? Man, I have really depressed myself this morning :( Note: My response is from my role as IT Manager. The home market is slightly different situation.

putt1ck
putt1ck

Serious question. What is it you cannot do in Ubuntu (or another modern Linux distro)? Please, there is limited time in my life, so no responses about MS apps that don't run on Linux (i) because actually they probably do if you try CodeWeavers or Wine and (ii) this is about long term decisions and applications can be changed. I've heard reasonable but increasingly marginalised arguments for why home users cannot change (non standards-based hardware e.g. unusual digital camera etc.). But for business? Linux has *always* been more manageable e.g. scripted patching and installs, local patch and application caches, fine-grained control over GUI feature access, etc. etc., albeit mostly without GUI applications to do this configuration. There are many business-type applications that run on Linux suitable for almost all purposes; and many more that are moving to the web, which run fastest on Firefox. OpenOffice is a fine office suite for the vast majority of staff (and has a far better word processor) and you can get support contracts if required. If OpenOffice doesn't cut it, try Symphony. Security is better. Architecturally. In time to patch. By numbers of alerts per time period (note in comparisons has to be kernel/GUI v. Windows, not distro with 2000 applications v. Windows ;) ). Client AV not necessary - virus/worm targets are not due to popularity but vulnerability (see CanSecWest results or any AV companies database). Client firewall not necessary as OS isn't open in the first place. Then there's support. Which is also better on Linux than it is on Windows, paid-for or otherwise. Exceptions are exceptions and there's no harm in retaining a few Windows (pref. virtual) machines for those things that just can't be moved/emulated e.g. core accounts apps or for that hardcore Adobe user who just refuses to try anything else. But what is it you (or anyone) think makes Linux less mature for business use than XP? Or Windows 7?

kgunnIT
kgunnIT

Great question....and what many users forget is the fact that not only can their Windows app run under CodeWeavers or WINE (most apps any way), but there are open source alternatives that do run on linux without WINE or CodeWeavers.

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

...by not purchasing Vista.

daileyml
daileyml

Support for XP is on life support, and the cost of going to Windows 7 from XP will be greater than Vista to Windows 7. Holding out to prove a point will result is greater expense, right? What about the rumors of a free/LOW cost upgrade to Windows 7? Any more out about that one? Microsoft, as usual, has their OS customers over a barrel.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

Many companies are looking at different choices, like *nix and Mac. They are looking at pinching pennies and not having to spend a small fortune on license fees.

reisen55
reisen55

Do you have any concept of the install base of WinTel architecture???? We are talking of millions of computers - Ubantu, Linux, and Mac are about 10% maximum market penetration. I do not hope so - perfectly happy with Windows XP thank you.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

Let us hope so. Perhaps the cost of software licensing and the state of the economy may play into that as well.

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

...why would Microsoft make upgrading to 7 even more expensive? Do they honestly think that making upgrades more painful than they already are is a good business strategy? Remember: Every time a vendor makes an upgrade more painful and expensive, the alternatives look easier and cheaper.

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

...when we had several exploits in the wild, and late movement on the part of Microsoft. As an experiment, I've since moved to Google Chrome as my primary browser for both performance and security reasons. If MS wants to play chicken again, I'll be prepared to seriously consider such a solution.

ssharkins
ssharkins

You might be on to something there -- have you given this any serious thought? Are you recommending clients drop IE and stick with Windows XP until the chill is over?

ssharkins
ssharkins

Businesses won't find alternatives, they'll just maintain -- unless they have a serious business reason not to. Maintaining is Okay, for a while.

ssharkins
ssharkins

Support for XP is on life support, and the cost of going to Windows 7 from XP will be greater than Vista to Windows 7. Holding out to prove a point will result is greater expense, right? ======How so? What about the rumors of a free/LOW cost upgrade to Windows 7? Any more out about that one? Microsoft, as usual, has their OS customers over a barrel. ======I haven't.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

That means 7 just won't have the same market. With virtualization, application streaming, and software compliance software, the days of MS owning the desktop are over.

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

MS already tried that game of chicken, and they blinked. IT departments large and small held firm. Without major benefits, we'll drag our feet on 7 as well. MS can go ahead and cut off stupport. But most of the security issues are IE related, and there are plenty of alternatives available for that.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

With the economy in the toilet and with little budget for IT projects, business are going to find alternatives. MS is acting EXACTLY like IBM did in the mid-80's (and that's why IBM almost died)

killian.amiel
killian.amiel

The 3 reasons for upgrading don't make any logical sense... They all basically advise that a good course of action is to go through the expense of 2 deployments in the hope that splitting the time spent in training, testing and compatability issues is going to somehow save something. My clients aren't upgrading to Vista for the same reason I didn't - I looked at it and found it didn't offer me anything new that I needed (or even half-wanted). Windows 7 may well be the same for all I know. After the underwhelming experience of Vista, I can't yet raise the enthusiasm to check it out.

gary
gary

People are creatures of habit. Wait let's change that. Habit - thus so are creatures whom we call people. That is nine words instead of five and, in the end, it just means that you have to spend some time getting from incomprehensible to confused. Like Vista, Windows 7 is different from XP. It is as incomprehensible as Vista. However, the user XP going to Windows 7 can get to a condition called "I don't like it but I get it". With Vista, it is just "Damn it! Why doesn't this thing work?". So, why go to through Vista hell just so the user can more easily transition to Windows 7? Oh, darn it! I know why. Migrating directly from XP to Windows 7 puts Microsoft's revenue flow in a bind. It is hard to explain to happy XP users that they will have to pay a penalty for not going through Vista hell.

reisen55
reisen55

I remember when corporate IT had 4 to 5 years between upgrades and even then those evenings and weekends were awful. Now Microsoft is shoving or trying to move a Windows 2000 - XP crowd (where everything is really working well) to Vista (badly working) to Windows 7 (what to be called? Rainbow Brite?) in about 2 or 3 years. This is too much to ask. I am keeping my clients on XP for one reason: IT WORKS and I do not want to put their business(s) in jeopardy. That is a danger for us. To go with something new just because it is NEW!!!!!!!!!! Avoid that temptation always. Go with what works, solid and most of all TESTED, TESTED and verified. Actually I turn the old Reagan chestnut around when it comes to Microsoft: DISTRUST, BUT VERIFY.

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

...to protect them from the IT press. Who exactly who are these "experts"? MS Marketing hacks? So I should waste time and money pushing Vista on my users just because 7 will be similar? "Windows 7 is similar to Windows Vista, so users upgrading to Windows 7 directly from Windows Vista will need less time to adjust." So, the logic is that we should go through two transitions in stead of one, just because the second one will be slightly less painful that the first? "Organizations experiencing problems migrating to Windows Vista will experience similar problems if they upgrade to Windows 7 from Windows XP. So, they might as well work through those issues now." Why? Because my time is less valuable now than it will be next year? "You can keep users working on Windows XP while testing applications on Windows Vista. Later, the upgrade to Windows 7 should be reasonably trouble-free because you worked through incompatibility issues in Windows Vista." Or, I could keep my users working on XP while testing applications on Windows 7. Later, the upgrade should be even more trouble-free because I worked through incompatibility issues on the OS that my users will actually be using. And I will have spared my users the agony of a year of MS's most bloated and sluggish OS ever.

clint.t
clint.t

I'm glad someone called out these recommendations for what they are: Complete and utter rubbish.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

The people that were scaring me were the ones who assumed w7 would be a development of XP and would undo Vista changes. I told them they were in for a rude surprise. Course I like Vista, but I was never dumb enough to think of it as an upgrade.

BrokenEagle
BrokenEagle

All my XP clients with previous Mac experience have decided to move back to the Mac rather that do Vista. Vista has helped Apple sales.

mikifinaz1
mikifinaz1

Or some other distro of Linux and give WinX the boot. This is a good time to make the break.

kgunnIT
kgunnIT

At our company, we have 1 machine that runs Vista, supposedly the software on that machine only runs on Vista. At one point I "upgraded" back to XP and the software worked with no problem, but ended up going back to Vista since I was violating our user agreement. We are at the point of needing two laptops replaced, but I do not plan purchasing new computers until the release of Windows 7. No point in making two upgrades. Several of our employees have requested we stay with XP, but I don't see how that is possible with OEM software. I do not plan on upgrading to Office 2007. I have users that have a hard time with Office 2003. Once Office 2003 becomes obsolete, I plan on making the switch to OpenOffice. Always free. Never obsolete. I want to move to Linux, but I know some of our software is not available on Linux and I am not going to rely on WINE to get the job done. Some of our software I know there aren't any open source alternatives. MS is getting out of hand with all of these versions, and I hate it! XP Pro and Home, fine. But Home Basic, Business, etc...with Vista, unnecessary. This just confuses the average user. I get "Why can't I do xxx?" and all I have to say is you get what you paid for. You buy home basic, you get basic and nothing fancy.

microface
microface

Myself and my clients are all small businesses, 1 - 35 employees. I am the trusted IT/Computer fix it man for all 35 of these businesses. I have tested the software that these clients of mine bought, which they have no hope of upgrading, because the bunsinesses they bought the software from no longer are in existance, or because the updates cost 500 - 1000 dollars. So I tested each of these applications on WINE, and all of these proprietary pices of database, POS, or other software will work. On VISTA only 5 OF THE 25 PIECES OF SOFTWARE WORK 100% !!!!! I expect Windows 7 will be the same, so all these clients and myself will migrate shop by shop to Ubuntu and WINE. FOR FREE, and NO MORE ANT-Virau MAlware !!!

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

You are going to base your business on WINE working well. Good luck. WINE is good but not base my entire business model around good. Please name the '25 PIECES OF SOFTWARE' so I may verify your claims of non-conformance.

putt1ck
putt1ck

Going Linux. Note any costs incurred of escaping the standards-deficient MS stack are costs of exit of the previous decision not the costs of adoption of the standards-based replacement. Makes the decision so much easier. Once on Linux the choices are endless and low-cost. You plan your OS and application upgrades based on your preferences. Upgrades are scripted and hence cost virtually nothing in both licencing and deployment terms. For some users you could even upgrade everything except the GUI, gain all the functionality and security enhancements of the upgrade without the user noticing any change...

rob mekel
rob mekel

Yes, we will skip Vista. The reasons are obvious. The releases of XP - Vista - Windows 7 are to close together to be economicaly justifiable. And that is not because of the economic crisis we all are in now. That is of cause if the consumer release of Windows 7 (or whatever the next release will be named) will be in 2013 ... then it will be another matter to discus. [i]edited because of some "ll" mistake[/i]

anthony
anthony

Yes, I will be recommending to all my clients that they skip Vista. I mean, if there's less than 12 months before W7 is released, then why will we go through the migration hassles now? That's not to mention the extra costs involved! There's also a psychological factor involved with Vista too: most of my clients are scared of Vista, even though there isn't much of a problem with it anymore. I also have found that just recently all of our specialist software has caught up with Vista. Until recently, a lot of the software we supported didn't work with Vista!

Marcelle Green
Marcelle Green

Well if you are going to have the same problems going to 7 or vista, why not just go with 7 to have the better OS when you are back on smooth ground. It makes no sense to go through that crap twice.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

Vista has had a LOT of enterprise issue and it's just not cost effective to jump. With that being said, it looks like MS remembered that the enterprise customers do exist and targeted 7 with that in mind.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

Since my clients sell their software to end users, it's imperative that they have a working version on Vista -- because their clients are buying new systems with Vista pre-installed. They could recommend that their clients skip it, and some will, but not all of them. So my clients have to be Vista-compatible right now.

SerrJ215
SerrJ215

I have worked with Vista and most of my clients have asked me to wipe the drives and put on XP. Frankly MS has to realize that we dont need 6 flavors of the OS we need 2 at the most. As for 7, I am glad its still in the beta because MS still hasent gotten it right. We need an OS for work! not window dressing! Most of my clients are small bussiness and contractors. In this economy they can't see the benfit of buying or upgrading to an OS that cost 3 times more then XP, and all there getting is a pretty interface.

claude
claude

Where are you buying your software? In the channel and most of the 800 sales outfits, Vista and XP are priced within a few dollars of each other, the exception of Vista Ultimate, which did not have a comparable XP Product. Perhaps yea are falmming again? Claude

john3347
john3347

Really don't we need only one basic version with half a dozen or so optional add-ins? One would buy a basic version and have Media Center, business, aero and gadgets, etc., etc. available as add-ins. Dare I use the word "modular"? Somewhere in this mix would be a version for the user who is the sole user of their computer.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Obviously you shouldn't be allowed within a 250-mile radius of Redmond.

blarman
blarman

Monolithic is the ONLY way to go! And how dare you suggest that Microsoft doesn't listen to its business customers. We enjoy their screaming like souls in perdition![/sarcasm]

itpro_z
itpro_z

...there basically are 2 versions: Home Premium and Business, with the names being pretty explanatory. Basic was only for super low end machines, and even those machines today will run the higher versions easily. Ultimate was for idiots who couldn't be bothered with deciding which version to buy. Regarding your other comments, Vista and XP are basically the same price, although some are now charging more for XP. What you call "window dressing" my users call less eye strain, a tangible advancement. Besides the "pretty interface", the security improvements alone make the switch worthwhile. In one of my offices, where we have Vista and XP running side by side, a visit to the same web site resulted in the XP machines getting infected by the AntiVirus 2009 crap, while the Vista machines stayed clean. Would you not call that worthwhile? How about the vastly improved memory management and multitasking, just more "window dressing"?

SKDTech
SKDTech

"Ultimate was for idiots who couldn't be bothered with deciding which version to buy." Actually I purchased Ultimate after consideration of its features. I wanted the features of Home Premium and the ability to administer my PC that was included in Business. As far as the Ultimate Extras go I would agree that you would be an idiot to buy Ultimate just to get those. If my PC were only to be used for work I would have likely gone with Business. But I do agree that there need to be as few flavors as possible. I personally don't know anyone who would have been happy with Home Basic, unless of course it would run on a netbook.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

One for home, with all the entertainment bells and whistles. One for work, with all the time wasters and non-productivity apps removed. Nobody in the work place need a movie editor, media content producers excluded (and they're using Macs anyway).

bsauer
bsauer

Believe it or not there are a lot more people editing media on PCs these days than you might think. I have worked with that side of the business for about 15 years now and when MAC almost went belly up a lot of people switched over to PCs and stayed there.

itpro_z
itpro_z

There really are only two versions for most people: Premium (for home users) and Business (for the office). Enterprise is only for big companies, while Basic really serves no purpose anymore. Ultimate was for those who could not be bothered with figuring out which version was right for them. Pretty much everyone that I know who bought Ultimate thought that since it was the Ultimate, it must be the best! Regarding the "entertainment bells and whistles", I have many users who need those for their work. If your users are playing instead of working, you have personnel issues rather than computer issues.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

In my case I would strip Hearts and Solitaire, definitely get rid of MSN and Express but allow use of WMP, Movie Maker and other presentation and video interfaces. I am not saying my build is the best or what you should use, I'm simply illustrating that each and every company has its own policy as to what is needed and what isn't. So to ask for teh OS to be stripped to YOUR needs only leaves others wondering WHY these apps arent' available to them in a business version. You can keep some of the people happy some of the time, but other people are just never f'in happy. ;)

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I strip all the media stuff off before I create the Ghost. Regardless of the tools, there should be a version oriented toward the workplace. Justify having Hearts and Solitaire on a workplace OS, or Outlook Express, or default shortcuts to MSN.

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

Are You Crazy??? Then how productive will people be when they get home to use their free time and have to edit their home movies during their free time??? Oh, and dont get me started on removing other media content!!! Geez, one would think that you want people to do their jobs at work! Let me guess, solitaire should go missing as well???

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"Windows 7 is similar to Windows Vista, so users upgrading to Windows 7 directly from Windows Vista will need less time to adjust." Funny, I don't see much difference between XP and V. I set most things for Classic mode, turned off Aero to help the performance, and dropped the wasteful Doohickey bar. I go between my work Vista and home XP Home systems and don't notice much difference. The real pain comes in transitioning to Office 2007. No classic mode there, unless you pay for it.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

When I first installed it it saw ribbons and wondered where all of my normal buttons and shortcuts went. Now I fin dit just as easy to use as previous versions, and without really doing anything or spending extensive time looking. The tool icons are all teh same and are all there, the FILE>VIEW>TOOLS menus etc. are all available by clicking the Windows logo instead of text across the top. Other than thatm it doesn't scare me anymroe and I haven't played with it as much as I do 2003 but I still find moving between the two just as easy for either 2003 or 2007. I think that in no time you will find its no different than running Vista Classic (which is what I do too, I don't want the Playschool buttons and goofy GUI look whether using XP or Vista). the learnign curve to Office 2007, MAYBE 30 minutes to find all your old ways of doing things. Not exactly a mind numbing process though.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Every user that has 2007 has to remember to change the file type they are saving as before emailing it to anyone, because very few people have 2007 (The few that do have it for the simple purpose of opening the document, resaving it in a doc format, and resending it to the person) that whenever we recieve a DocX, we simply must pass it to someone that has 2007, resave it, and send it back. Therefore wasting lots of time. If they had simply left that aspect alone, left the doc as it was, we would have a lot less beefs with the program. As it is, I would not be supprised if our clients started using openoffice just for the ease of opening all documents. Saddly, where I work, we cannot upgrade our office version, we use Word and Excel documents as OLE's in programs, Office 2000 works perfect, and Office 2003 has some glitches where tables are concerned, however Office 2003 I find is a bit easier to make tables, so I make them in 2003, then resave them in 2000 using a different computer. Office 2007, even when saved as a 2003 Doc, works terriable as an OLE, margins get ruined, tables get ruined, text loses size and alignment, it just doesn't work.

beechC23
beechC23

Good advice thanks. As for being stuck with ancient software, I'm afraid we will always have that reality. In a large organization such as the one I work for, it's unrealistic to expect everyone to upgrade at the same time and as project manager on government projects dealing with consultants and outside stakeholders, I am stuck with the reality that not everyone is on 2007 (I am using Office 2008 for Mac, which really sucks, and 2003 for XP on my XP partition, which sucks much less; I also have 2004 for Mac on some home machines which sucks somewhere in between 2003 and 2008).

Aakash Shah
Aakash Shah

You can easily change Word 2007 to save all files in .doc instead of .docx: Orb | Word Options | Save | Save files in this format | select Word 97-2003 (*.doc). If you use Active Directory, you can create a Group Policy to automate this for you. Alternatively, you can create a custom transform file or a registry file to accomplish this too.

putt1ck
putt1ck

Developing a system that locks you in to one particular piece of software or worse to a particular stack of software is the wrong way to think. A well-developed system does not prevent you from upgrading but nor does it require you to. Standardise on standards, both formats and protocols and consign the upgrade treadmill to history. Then start to gain real value from your IS investements.

Slayer_
Slayer_

I am only a lowly Programmer/Analyst, I have no say in such things.

itpro_z
itpro_z

Microsoft does have a free patch to add Office 07 file compatibility to older versions of Office, but I think that it only works with Office 02 and 03. The problem that you have is that you have developed a system that has you stuck with 10 year old software. At some point, you will have to move beyond that, as no software lasts for ever. Where my brother works, they have also standardized on Office 2000. Since it does not work with Vista or (I assume) Win7, then they find themselves also stuck in the past. Soon, hardware will leave XP behind, making it increasingly difficult to put together a new computer that will run XP. No matter how much people want the world to stand still, it never does. Your IT people need to be working on a new solution before you hit the wall.

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