Windows

Vista or XP? How about both?


Now that Windows Vista SP1 is peeking out from around the e-corner, many "pre-SP1 adverse" organizations will probably begin the process of evaluting Vista in their organizations.  However, for the foreseeable future, there will be those that swear by Windows XP and its stability and performance.  So, who's right?  Why not both?

As much as it will pain some to admit it, Vista does have some redeeming qualities.  And, for others, Windows XP continues--and will continue--to serve a very useful purpose in the enterprise.  So, what are some of the situations in which it might make sense to run both Windows Vista and Windows XP in the organization?  And, what are the challenges involved in doing so?

In my organization, a private liberal arts college, we are considering deploying Vista on any new staff and faculty laptop computers we add to our inventory.  Desktop computers would remain on Windows XP.  Here is our reasoning:

  • Driving factor: With BitLocker drive encryption, potentially sensitive information is better protected in the event of the loss or theft of a laptop.  As such, for our initial rollout, desktop computers would not be given the Vista treatment and would stick with XP.
  • Supporting two operating systems isn't that out of the ordinary and happens often when a transition is made between OS platforms.
  • Only new laptops would get the Vista treatment and they will be outfitted with a minimum of 2GB of RAM.
  • At some point, the Vista vs. XP decision won't be a decision at all.  Eventually Vista, like Windows XP before it, will supplant its predecessor to a point at which running the legacy OS simply doesn't make sense.  If we can begin to deploy Vista on a small number of machines now, we can gauge the support impact a larger Vista migration will have without affecting users en masse.  We'd treat the laptop Vista rollout as a pilot project.
  • Our students are already coming to campus with Vista preloaded on their machines and we have to support them.  So, even though Vista isn't deployed on institutional machines outside of IT, we're, for all intents and purposes, already supporting it.

There are, of course, a number of considerations and potential challenges to overcome, including:

  • Application compatibility - will all of our necessary applications work as necessary?  Mitigation: We are testing our apps.  Apps that do not run under Vista may have upgraded versions that do work or may be run through a Terminal Server.  So far, it appears that most of our apps either run with no problems or have new versions that run with no problems.
  • System performance - Can the machines work as necessary, allowing users to remain productive?  With 2GB of RAM, Vista runs well, even with Aero enabled.  As indicated, only new machines would get the Vista treatment.  We won't retrofit any old hardware.
  • BitLocker data loss - What happens if a user's machine becomes unbootable and requires a rebuild?  If the drive is encrypted and we have to manually recover the data for some reason, how do we do so?  There are methods by which BitLocker keys can be stored in Active Directory and we're continuing to study the impact that this challenge could create.
  • More difficult to provide "loaner" machines.  Right now, when a user's laptop dies, we can simply move the hard drive to a loaner machine (unless, of course, it's the hard drive that's bad!).  Under a dual-OS scenario, this task becomes a little more difficult and may require additional loaner hardware.
  • User training.  It's Windows, but different.  Microsoft has made a number of changes to the ways that users interact with the operating system.  Some are good and some are bad, but they all affect the user.  Our support staff will need to be ready to answer questions related to interface and process changes.

My team and I are still discussing the pros and cons related to such a rollout and, at the end of the day, we might decide that it's better to push the whole thing off for another year.  This is a project that I'll keep you current on as we move through the process.  A lot of organizations are facing the same issue.

About

Since 1994, Scott Lowe has been providing technology solutions to a variety of organizations. After spending 10 years in multiple CIO roles, Scott is now an independent consultant, blogger, author, owner of The 1610 Group, and a Senior IT Executive w...

36 comments
amj2010
amj2010

Toni, if you wanne do a lot of accounting and bookkeeping c.g. administrative work ONLY, stick to XP. But if you wanne it all with graphics, video, multimedia and the lot choose Vista Ultimate, not the other versions, they lack a lot...

rtobin.itsupport
rtobin.itsupport

Ive been running XP and Vista for the Last 8 Months or so, I originally installed Vista to play around with and see what problems I would have with our company software,etc In the last 6 Months,I can say I have only booted into XP 2/3 Times. This was only to make some changes to a vb6 program that I coded many years ago,dont think Visual Studio 6 will be compatible with Vista but other than that ive been using it as my main OS without any real problems. Every now and then you get a bit of trouble with a driver or something but ive never been unable to fix it or find a solution. Happy with Vista at the moment Rob

kizersosay28
kizersosay28

I get the feeling that most people that bash vista, never really tried it. I have been using Vista for 2 years now, with over 90 applications installed. There is the occasional hiccup, but overall it runs fine. Now, with SP1, it works much better. Moving and compressing files does not take all day like it used to. My advice would be, don't run vista on older machines where there may be driver issues(or at least make sure there are vista drivers available for your hardware, they do work contrary to popular belief), and have plenty of RAM(at least 2 gigs).

tstilwel
tstilwel

I still can not get Vista to make a Backup/Restore on my new laptop. I purchased a new laptop in July 07 and just had to get the restore disk. After installing Windows Vista again, It still will not make a backup for me. I think Microsoft missed out here. XP is way better. Tom S. Utica,NY

tstilwel
tstilwel

I just contacted HP and told them of the problem. I advised them I would be much happier with Windows XP and asked for a Restore disk with XP on it. NO MORE VISTA. If I have to I will order XP from another Restore Source. Or go with the Apple System. Good Bye Vista. Tom

L-Mo
L-Mo

Interesting that you mention Apple. I've entertained the thought for years. I know they're big in music and graphics but do you think its an option for folks in IT? This could spur a completely seperate discussion but as far as the question "XP or Vista", how about neither? Besides running linux...

JCitizen
JCitizen

for me anyway. But I'm going to have to wait for one in garage sale, cause I can't afford those over priced units.

ginkep
ginkep

In my opinion, Vista was build more on eye candy, but not focused on easy of use and technology perspective. What so technologically advantaged running on Vista that freshly installed OS grabs about 800MB of RAM? What so cool is implemented in Vista, that can not be done in Windows XP or even W2K?

mikifin
mikifin

I wouldn't put Vista on anything I own. I don't want to follow Microsoft down their product path so I am moving to Linux.

JCitizen
JCitizen

but I got my doubts it will beat the XP x64 installation that I'm evaluating now. And the security and file integrity is very close in capability.

jschon1
jschon1

Windows Vista is a poor Windows Beta Version. It fails and has already caused me to have to use the restore disk. The restore function worked for the system but my files that were backed up were corrupted. It takes forever to load, and you never know whether the system has crashed until suddenly it comes up. It is a beta version that was released prematurely. XP was better, Windows 98 even better. Microsoft should be listening to the customers (the users)instead of coming up with endless code that does meet the customers needs and will cause Microsoft endless troubles. Eventually Microsoft will have to pay financially for not listening. The marketing/sales division of Microsoft is the one driving the new versions instead of the technical people. Microsoft has the resources to build a far better product. Why don't they do it? The long term financial reward will be far greater when a product meets customer needs instead of adding features that in most cases are unecessary and make application programs incompatible.

dirtylaundry
dirtylaundry

Gates is one of the richest men in the world - whether Vista is liked or not doesn't hurt him at all - he has his hands in Apple, Ford and trying to get a patent in science field by way of bio-technology. Just as when WinXP came out, it was a beta released prematurely until SP2 - finally it was stable (for those that know how to configure it and maintain it) - and Now Vista is a deja vu - until it has an SP2 or SP3 it won't be perfected. Used to be that getting in on a beta team was coveted and special and some even got paid - Gates has realized that people want to be first more than anything, and so he uses those to beta test when he releases an OS - I always wait for the guinea pigs stage of his OSes before I finally make the switch. WinXP and Linux distro for me until a Vista system falls into my lap or until my games and apps no longer function with them. Lately Dell has been selling system only PCs for $300 with Vista Home Premium so it IS inevitable that Vista will be forced down our throats - Colleges and Big Businesses are truly the first victims of this as another poster smartly said, and I paraphrase, *any educational institution or big business that can't say they support Vista is shooting itself in the foot.* Gates is concerned with HIS security on his OSes and the bottom line than our opinions because he is going to sell his software to vendors no matter what. He disdains of anyone ripping off his OS via cracks and hacks and imitation much as he did to Apple. His Big brother tactics are not considered by the lay person just looking to get a computer for email and surfing. He knows this. It's 2 yrs now for Vista and only NOW is truly a standard on new PCs. It's only an OS - but it shouldn't be phoning home each time I wanna swap out a harddrive or add some ram or mod my system in any way. Supporting Linux - even if it's Ubuntu is the best way to make a statement. Sadly, Dell's project of selling systems with Ubuntu wasn't largely embraced by the masses, but maybe if they had tried as hard as they do to sell Vista machines with endless TV ads and circulars it might have made a difference. $ talks tho.

Macktownjoe
Macktownjoe

I've read all the posts and wonder (for the most part) what planet they are coming from. I have no problem with networking to XP, little problem with apps or hardware (some drivers do need upgrading, some apps need updating) and more memory is needed for Vista. Account control has to be turned off (personal choice). XP is good and has been good, although it got bashed in much the same way that Vista is now until Vista came along. Vista is somewhat better. Either one will get the job done. Anyone who thinks that Linux and Open Source is better than Vista and MS whatever is fooling himself. I like Linux and Open Source for playing around, but for serious work there's no question that MS leads the way.

linuxkg100
linuxkg100

There's no way I would use MS products for serious work related things.. Linux Distro works much better to me, In fact, as a avid Windows user i have had more issues like wondering about virus, trojan, and worn, and other malicious things, then any linux distro I have used. My Windows Experience is just for gaming and that's it, while I use Linux Distros for the more serious related work, because quiet frankly Linux and Opensource products are the way to go.

carlsf
carlsf

There is NO way I will be running VISTA (in any form) too many changes to the interface and the way it takes over. An Operating system is just that and VISTA is a Operating system that controls you sorry MS NO WAY. And as for Office 2007 again too many changes and it is NOT intutive. this is a application and you should be able to operate it the way you want and NOT spend hours trying to find something. All together these make my company unproductive and the cost of training/downtime/and incomaptability with older templates and macros sorr downtime in rewriting these make it a NO GO

gpfear
gpfear

I am sure their are many still running 2000 professional and 98. Of course they are unsupported and no longer receive updates. That being said, you should probably be able to stick with it until Vista's replacement arrives and save yourself one hardware upgrade.

miclpl
miclpl

xp a better system

ProperName
ProperName

I have to agree with many of the responses I have seen already. In theory, the laptop Vista only rollout should work ok to test. However, as has been said already, Vista does not play nice with an XP network. Especially if you want a wireless connection to that network. With XP wireless network is as easy as running the network setup wizard, under Vista, I have tried every trick I know to get these Vista laptops to be visible and connected to the network. I can connect to the modem via wireless only when I unplug any and (all) XP machines from my network. Boy this sound like the kind of network everyone wants. I never had any of these issues installing different Linux blends on different machines within my XP network. What does this say to me? It reeks of "run from Microsoft", they have proven over the past five years that their bottomline means more than my uptime. Thanks Microsoft. For nothing. I'm staying with my XP/Linux boxes.

linuxkg100
linuxkg100

I use both.. plus have a linux distro setting around, just in case windows gives me the black screen of uncertainty. :)

steve
steve

I tried to do exactly as mentioned above. (XP Desktops, Vista Laptop, 2 GB RAM) It was a total nightmare! Aside from the pain of having to upgrade common programs (QuickBooks, Office, etc) to Vista compatible versions, Vista did not work well on the XP network. I have now gone back to XP and will not move to Vista until either Vista plays nicer with XP or I am ready to go Vista on all my computers.

harrylal
harrylal

I have been wanting to upgrade my home PC but there is very little positive and a whole lot of negative reasons with Vista to not upgrade. My real irritation is that it is nearly, if not impossible to find a new PC in the retail arena without Vista, and it is going to be totally impossible to do so very shortly. So I feel like I have little choice. Quite frankly, I like the applications I use that work on XP and don't want to have to uninstall Vista and install XP or set it up to dual boot; it should just work! It is only one step forward, it's not like I am trying to have a DOS 5.0 program work on it. Microsoft saw that it was possible to to make Win3.1 stuff backward compatible and still work in Win95, even though Win95 wasn't that great either, so it can be done. Hardware vendors are catering to Microsoft making it difficult to get a PC with XP (see above) so there is more than one culprit in this whole Vista situation. So what can we as consumers do....? My opinion and hope, is that we don't buy it or buy into it and let them know why. They (MS) already know that there are major problems with Vista, yet people buy PCs with it and uninstall it, and put XP on. Unfortunately, MS see this as fantastic sales of their new "Ultimate" product (what a crock) and it is true, they are selling it. So, the only choice is to not buy PCs with it loaded on it. That would be a wonderful fantasy, but probably not very realistic, especially in the business world, however, from the standpoint my own personal situation, I am holding out as long as possible and hope a lot of others feel like me, and who knows, maybe someone will actually take note.

Haas
Haas

First of all, Microsoft knows how to generate easy money for themselves and others. Microsoft have been busy selling Vista and I have been busy with people wanting to downgrade to XP. When people come to me, I look at their faces and see pain and suffering from their painful computing experience with Vista. When dealing with this choice XP or Vista, as a home user, you don't have to switch, you can stick with your XP machine, but if you bought a new one and want to downgrade, give me a call, I am getting really good at downgrading. But if you work for a college/university, the choice is clear, you must upgrade because we are teaching Vista OS. and every idiot at the college is pushing for the upgrade. So I need to dig deep into books and forums to get ready for Vista support. It's gonna be my turn to suffer when I have to support Vista. Thanks M$. FYI, I use both XP and Linux at home.

art
art

If the best reason to use vista is an encrypted file system, why not use some variety of Linux. There are a number of encrypted file systems and you put them on a different partition from your OS. So in the unlikely event you have to rebuild the OS partition, the encrypted data partition is intact. And, they run great on a 800 mHz processor with 512 k memory.

guy
guy

I haven't seen anything that would inspire me to upgrade our 20-odd machines to Vista, nor even to buy a new machine with Vista preloaded. With XP SP3 on its way, I'm going to be waiting for Windows 7 at least before we think about changing OS.

microface
microface

I tried to install Vista , and then SP1 on 2 computers here at our facility , and got nothing byt complaints from the TEch Support staff, whose computers I updated. Nothing but problems with outlook, Microsoft Office, and now more headaches with SP1 and anti-virus, and anti-malware software. This company has decided that when XP is no longer supported they will go with Linux, Wine, and Open Office, they have over 300 people on various computer system and they are fed up with this MicroShit!!!

L-Mo
L-Mo

I enjoyed this article for it's break down. I'll personnally wait until I upgrade my hardware, and Microsoft updates its OS, before fully jumping onboard. I ran Vista Home Basic on a Dell Inspiron 1501 with the Sempron 3500+ and 2GB of memory and it ran smoothly once I trimmed it down. For some companies a similar setup would be fine; giving some advanced features while beginning to take the steps to make the change. I then ran Vista Home Premium on a similar machine but with an Athlon X2 TK-55 and disliked the experience. I still have to do some trimming but I want things to run fast. Call me impatient but I don't want to pull up my machine in front of a client and have to wait. Like it or not we will have to support Vista; the future will tell how long. Who out there wants to tell a C_O (you fill in the letter), or a college student paying 40K a year, that our institution doesn't provide Vista support? I see companys making changes and I wonder if it's all so necessary. Yes some can afford to and wish to but some don't "have to".

ScouterDude
ScouterDude

Yousay that Vista has some redeeming qualities. Would anyone care to delineate some of those for me please? I'm still at a loss to see what improvements it brings to the table, that help people be more productive. Change for changes sake is just counterproductive.

ScouterDude
ScouterDude

Yousay that Vista has some redeeming qualities. Would anyone care to delineate some of those for me please? I'm still at a loss to see what improvements it brings to the table, that help people be more productive. Change for changes sake is just counterproductive.

alopez
alopez

I am wondering how many fortune 1000 companies are "process" mature enough to accomplish the move to Vista? Curiousity of course is because I am tagged for planning at this point. EWE!

derek
derek

Xp is far from end of life. If windows 7 is around the corner the why wouldn't we wait? For our users it is about the applications, not the OS. In fact, have you Vista zealots thought about the fact that giving desktop users too much too play with is counter productive? It is all about the APPS!

JCitizen
JCitizen

how much better Vista is that a decision can't wait until W-7 surfaces. If the news weren't so rosey on Server 2008 I wouldn't be so ready to wait.

ashipps
ashipps

The only apps that run well on Vista are Microsoft Applications. My experience is that no one else is selling bug free applications for Vista. It is also true that no one is selling any applications that utilize my 64-bit Vista Ultimate PCs. I've had very little luck in finding high end audio, photo and video editing applications that run on Vista. Everyone is firmly locked onto XP and leaves it up the user to try out their applications on Vista. Microsoft should drop Vista like they did SE and make improvements XP instead. Microsoft Office 2007 reduces productivity as it places a heavy learning curve on those of us that maximize and utilize features in Office 2003. The new interface a lot of re-learning, to find and locate features.

slony
slony

I know I'm just a self trained everyday Joe but if I was a specialist like you people I would be very very angry at Bill Gates for selling an immature OS. With 98SE (when I first started) I put it in the machine and sat back and watched it do its thing. Same with XP and haven't had to do squat sence I ran SP2. With Vista I got a warning that my monitor wouldn't work if I continued the install. Did I panic? No ..it's just a machine. I beleive in the saying " it's not the arrow it's the indian". So I was sure I did something wrong. Thats when I started calling kids and freinds. ALL OF WHOM had uninstalled Vista. Maybe it was the arrow this time. To this day I have yet to see any anger from the people who really should see that we are getting ripped off. Maybe I should wait for Vista SP2 just to give you experts some time to fix the probs you find in Vista SP1, getting a working finished product from Microsoft is just out of the question. Here endth the rant ^_^

alopez
alopez

Indians and Arrows? While I understand the the Vista argument, maybe you should get another analogy...ay? check your mailbox for the Canadian Tire advertisement. I hear they have a sale on clues. Why don't you scurry over and get one.

rtirman
rtirman

It's one of those Unavailable conditions but it should be realized that SP1 for Vista is just that,,, My resources took MSAA_RDK.exe and put it into my RFC 2180.0.3119 to make the "End User' login at (1024.txt.log). There is not much going on here that will be available through Microsoft's Market Places soon..."Please remember to wear a helmet when attempting these stunt; Disclaimer."