In June, CIO magazine hosted a roundtable focused on the future of the business desktop and sponsored by Microsoft. It included the CIOs of two organisations that had already upgraded to Vista and several more that had not.
Engineering firm Beca is one that has upgraded and is reporting significant benefits, having been invlolved in an early adopter programme and with the help of service provider Datacom.
Beca group IT manager Andy Shields says he used Vista at home and hated it before moving to Beca. Initially he thought Beca’s plans to upgrade were unwise. However, the experience was quite different. Beca uses a completely locked down desktop environment, he says.
“In our organisation, it’s all about productivity and it’s measured on a daily basis because it’s all we have to sell, we don’t have a product we just have time. The ability to be able to lock down the desktop has significantly increased productivity,” he says.
And Vista made that easier.
“You know, you’d think it would be a huge battle and I don’t say it was easy. But, it has now been fully accepted across 2,500 desktops.”
Shields says change control for users has not been difficult because of the way it’s configured.
“The way we roll it out and the policies we applied meant they basically saw what they had before,” he says.
Shields experience is echoed by Tofigh Alizadeh, CIO of Turners Auctions, who says end user change was minimal. One feature that has been very well received is search.
“They’re the type of things that you sell to the users, when you use them, that’s the type of thing they just say wow,” he says.
However, both Vista users upgraded from Windows 2000, not XP, skipping a generation of Windows.
“We had done nothing for a long time,” says Shields. “We were still on Windows 2000. We never got to XP, so to go to XP now would be, hum, is that the smart move given that Vista is already out? We decided to make just one jump instead of two.”.
Simon Gould-Thorpe, CIO of Honda New Zealand, says while a Vista transition is relatively easy, Office 2007 is a bigger challenge for users.
“I’ve tried to use Office 2007 and I’ve fallen over sideways trying to get to use it,” he says. “This product at the moment is just so different from the existing platform. I am not saying it’s not great, it could be, but the change is so drastic from Office 2003 we’re not going to adopt it for several years.”
For Honda, XP rules the desktop, mainly because of difficulties in finding skills to make a transition. Honda buys XP licences, but downgrades to XP, he says.
Gould-Thorpe says he has installed Vista at home and loves it.
“I’d love to be able to install it in the workplace, it’s purely, as I said, getting the right expertise to help us do that without me losing two arms and one leg which I already paid when I bought all the licences anyway.”
Another staying with XP is Fidelity Life. CIO Rob Waring says his company has a machine set up with XP and couldn’t get it to work with the development environment and Visual Studio. However, after the service pack things have improved.
“At present it seems to be working but we haven’t tested all our applications and we haven’t tested all our software tools on it.”