UK CIOs and IT directors say they will have to be convinced of the business benefits and return on investment of Microsoft’s upcoming Windows Vista operating system before including it in IT spending and upgrade plans.

Microsoft’s ‘next generation’ version of Windows – originally codenamed Longhorn – is not due for a full release until some time in 2007 but the software giant has now revealed it will be called ‘Windows Vista’ and has released a first beta version to developers.

But only two out of’s 12-man CIO Jury user panel said they have started any planning for Windows Vista, in terms of upgrade cycles and its likely impact on IT budget and operations.

Most said they would only consider deploying Windows Vista after the first service pack update for the full release is out – and then only if the business benefits justify the upgrade cost.

Paul Haley, head of IS operations at the British Library, said: “It is too early to say whether or not we will be early adopters of Vista technology. There will have to be a genuine business benefit demonstrated before that decision is made. 2007 is still a long way away and we certainly would be unlikely to install a release zero version of the product.”

There are no plans for a Windows Vista upgrade in the next four to five years for Mark Devine, IT director at accountancy body ACCA, who said he is more interested in Oracle’s Collaboration Suite.

“Because of the time between releases and the quite separate antivirus and security products engaged, it did not make sense to take the Microsoft Software Assurance support program. Instead we treat this as a capital purchase every five years,” he said.

Ultimately the upgrade decision will come down to business benefits for most. Bob Silverman, CIO at Spring Group, said: “We have no plans just yet. Perhaps we will within the 2007 budget cycle although it will be an interesting debate agreeing business benefit and ROI.”

For others it is on the radar even if no definite plans have been put in place. Ken Davis, head of IT at TV channel Five, said: “Not enough is known about what Vista will finally look like to do any detailed level planning; however it is something that’s pencilled in at a high level as part of our medium term upgrade strategy.”

Kirk Downey, CTO at Centrica, said Vista is being planned as part of Centrica’s “rigorous” IT upgrade cycle but warned that it may end up being more than just an infrastructure upgrade for many companies.

“For those companies employing Microsoft .NET for business applications and development there are more profound implications, starting with the release of a raft of products this autumn, not least of which is SQL Server and Visual Studio 2005. As Microsoft continue to integrate their products on top of .NET, it may be the functionality and opportunity that drives upgrade rather than support terms,” he said.

Richard Steel, head of ICT at the London Borough of Newham, which famously had the very public Linux versus Microsoft battle, said: “We do not expect adverse impacts upon budget as the whole technology refresh process, including training, is now planned as part of the revenue cycle. Clearly, there will be some user impact during familiarisation, which we expect to be out-weighed by increased productivity benefits.”

This week’s CIO Jury was…

Chris Broad, head of IS and technology, UKAEA
Ken Davis, head of IT, Five
Mark Devine, IT director, ACCA
Kirk Downey, CTO, Centrica
Paul Haley, head of IS operations, British Library
Rob Neil, head of ICT, Ashford Borough Council
Crispin O’Connell, head of ICT, Cardiff City Council
Andy Pepper, director of business information systems, Tetley
Jacques Rene, head of IT and projects, Airclaims
Peter Ryder, head of ICT, Preston City Council
Bob Silverman, CIO, Spring Group
Richard Steel, head of ICT, London Borough of Newham

If you are a CIO, IT director or equivalent at a large or small company in the private or public sector and want to be part of’s CIO Jury pool, or you know an IT chief who should be, then drop us a line at