UK businesses are adopting a cautious approach to Microsoft’s forthcoming Windows Vista operating system, with many citing few compelling reasons to upgrade and opting to wait until at least 2008 before moving to Vista.

Microsoft will finally unveil Vista at the launch of its enterprise version by CEO Steve Ballmer at the New York Nasdaq on 30 November, with Redmond claiming it will be the fastest-adopted operating system it has ever released.

But only one of’s 12-man CIO Jury IT user panel said he planned to upgrade within the first year of Vista’s release. Half said they are looking at a one- to two-year upgrade timeframe and the rest will wait two to three years.

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One of the early adopters is likely to be online retailer Graham Benson, IT director of the Web Factory,’s IT organisation, said: “The new technologies deployed within the Vista architecture will enable a far more function-rich entertainment experience which, as an entertainment retailer, is of particular interest to us.”

Most will wait until Service Pack 1 for Vista has ironed out all the launch bugs and made the operating system more reliable.

Alastair Behenna, CIO at Harvey Nash, said: “There is no crashing urgency for us to upgrade as our current XP platform is stable and effective, and there is nothing, yet, in Vista – as good as it seems and especially given the costs – that is an absolute ‘must have today’. ”

The relative reliability and security of Windows XP is one reason why many organisations are in no hurry to upgrade to Vista. Steve Clarke, head of internal computing at AOL UK, said Windows XP meets all his business needs.

He said: “Migrating now would mean significant costs with very little business benefit. Upgrading in a few years’ time will mean most of our desktop kit will have an OEM licence and there’ll be a couple of Service Packs out. Then, with costs much lower, it might make sense, but I’m still struggling to work out what the business benefits will be.”

Nicholas Bellenberg, IT director at UK publisher Hachette Filipacchi, agreed. He said: “Until we’ve had hands-on to test and understand Vista it will be impossible to make a case for it. Frankly we have much bigger business priorities that re-inventing the desktop yet again. XP is fine, and in fact we still have some XP upgrades to do.”

Mark Saysell, IT director at Coutts Retail Communications UK, added: “Windows XP gives our business all the functionality that we currently need. I can’t justify the extra cost of upgrading, man hours of planning and rollout, user training and potential hardware upgrades to run Vista. Maybe I’m missing something, but I really can’t see any major business benefits from upgrading.”

Small and medium-sized businesses are also struggling to find reasons to move to Vista. Spencer Steel, IT manager at Watford-based IT recruitment firm Informatiq, said: “Everyone knows about the new pretty interface and increased security (again) but the reaction I’ve got from most IT managers is that the current Windows 2003 and Office suite gives the users more than enough power. I’ve no doubt that Vista will be a great success and we will ultimately roll it out. However, for a small company with limited support time, we will let the big boys do the testing and uncover the pitfalls first.”

Today’s CIO Jury was…

Alastair Behenna, CIO, Harvey Nash
Nicholas Bellenberg, IT director, Hachette Filipacchi UK
Graham Benson, IT director, the Web Factory (
Chris Broad, head of IS & technology, UK Atomic Energy Authority
Steve Clarke, head of internal computing at AOL UK
Neil Hammond, head of IT at British Sugar
Neil Harvey, head of IT & accommodation, Food Standards Agency
John Keeling, director of computer services, John Lewis
Mark Saysell, IT director, Coutts Retail Communications UK
Spencer Steel, IT manager at Informatiq
Gavin Whatrup, group IT director, Creston
Phil Young, head of IT and operations, Amtrak Express Parcels

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