A post on PCWorld’s blog yesterday posits that businesses might wait until the next version of Windows, currently labeled Windows 7, and not adopt Vista at all. This may well be in part because many businesses are waiting until the first Service Pack is released, which Microsoft states will probably be in the first quarter of 2008, and Windows 7 is looking at a business roll-out in late 2009 or 2010. Thus these firms have to ask theselves whether they want to deploy Vista in mid-2008 when the next version is due out within two years. Other reasons were listed as well:

  • Many businesses running XP follow an “every other release” upgrade path;
  • IT professionals see XP’s SP2 as an OS upgrade, rather than a roll-up of patches, which may extend the upgrade cycles of many businesses;
  • Microsofthas an SP3 in the works for XP, which may well breathe more life into the OS and stall Vista upgrades further;
  • Microsoft is continuing to offer mainstream support to businesses for XP through April of 2009.

On the other hand, if businesses do upgrade to Windows in large enough numbers in 2008, it may be Windows 7 that is skipped over. In fairness, many of the problems experienced with Vista have had to do with hardware compatability, which was in large part due to hardware vendors not rolling out driver upgrades in a timely fashion.

Another PCWorld blog post yesterday talked about a survey of nearly 600 U.S. and European companies that have more than 1,000 employees, run by Forrester Research Inc., which found that,

“Nearly a third of the polled businesses — 32% to be exact — said they would begin deploying Vista by the end of 2008, while another 17% said they would start in 2009 or 2010. But more than half of all companies remain skittish about Vista, according to Forrester’s data. A year after Microsoft released Vista to duplicators, 38% of companies claimed they had no plans at this stage to deploy the operating system. Another 14% said they just didn’t know. “

Benjamin Gray, of Forrester Research, also pointed to application incompatibility,

“citing reports from companies preparing for a migration to Vista. Those firms said applications incompatible with Vista made up between 10% and 40% of their software portfolios. ‘That’s causing a lot of XP shops to take a wait-and-see approach to Vista.'”

The bottom line here, as I have said in previous posts, is that there does not appear to be a compelling reason for the small or solo firm to jump to Vista just yet. Whether that means skipping it altogether is going to depend on where firms are in their upgrade cycle, how much XP’s third Service Pack is going to extend its life, and whether Microsoft experiences the same release delays with Windows 7 that it did with Vista, thus pushing it past late 2009-2010, and making Vista a more established upgrade option on hardware requirements that have dropped in price since the OS’s release. We will just have to wait and see.