As those brave souls who are the Vista pioneer users start using their machines for awhile, they are starting to find hidden upgrade costs, both in time and money. Hardware and software incompatibilities (including drivers) are resulting in lost use of peripherals, lost productivity, and forced software upgrades. Some upgrades are not even available yet. Security software ZoneAlarm, for example, plans a Vista version for release later in the spring. Others, like McAfee and Symantec, have products that they assert are compatible with the 32-bit version of Vista, but failed to make Microsoft’s February Vista-certified software list.

Then there is Intuit’s QuickBooks. Many law firms, including mine, use QuickBooks to handle their finances and/or time and billing. Although those firms that also use its payroll package are used to the annual upgrades (albeit grudgingly for many), those that do not, but want Vista on their new machines, will be forced to buy QuickBooks 2007, since version 2006 simply will not run on the new OS. For this reason, firms will have to pay for network licensing on the new version for every user in their office. This cost is inevitable, but should be taken into account when calculating the real cost of the Vista upgrade.

There is help, however. For software, Microsoft maintains a list on its web site of applications that have earned the “Certified for Windows Vista” or “Works with Windows Vista” logo. For hardware, there is also a compatibility list you can use to be sure you won’t have a problem with your peripherals and/or main hardware. As for system and device drivers, check out Radarsync to get the latest upgrades. These lists should be used extensively in determining your total cost of upgrade before you take the plunge. As we know from being attorneys, the better prepared attorney is the more effective attorney.