Vista uptake will be laggardly, says analyst

Australian analyst firm Hydrasight believes there won't be a rush to the new operating system

Sydney-based IT analyst firm Hydrasight has delivered a dim forecast for the adoption rate of Windows Vista, predicting businesses will question the value the new OS can provide.

The enterprise adoption rate for Vista in Australia will be less than 10% during 2007, according to Hydrasight.

The company’s research director, John Brand, says the biggest competitor to the adoption of Vista is “Microsoft and the status quo”.

“Previous versions of its own operating systems, as far back as Windows 98 and 2000, dominate the majority of consumer and business PCs — and will continue to do so throughout 2007 and beyond,” Brand says, adding that most businesses will resist in the short- to medium-term.

Hydrasight believes resistance will be driven by multiple factors, including costs, productivity and legacy.

“Rather than reducing the cost of providing desktop and server productivity software, the commitment to embrace Vista will increase technology costs overall — even for small- and medium-sized businesses,” according to Hydrasight. “It will require an initial spike in investment in hardware upgrades, does not remove the need for third-party tools and applications — including security and hygiene products — and will likely lead to additional ongoing services to unlock value from any new features.”

The firm believes the true pain and costs caused by upgrading will not be widely recognised until 2008 to 2009. On productivity, Hydrasight believes that a business case built on satisfying end-user morale and aiming for increased productivity gains is misguided.

“Any productivity benefits gained will be marginal compared to the overall investment made in upgrading to Vista. Hydrasight also cautions organisations against the presumption that Microsoft Office upgrades will remain independent of Vista,” the company says. “Our research indicates Office upgrades are relatively unattractive, even for savvy organisations, as they recognise that personnel are more familiar and productive with existing versions.”

Hydrasight claims additional features will only provide “marginal” productivity benefits that will be outweighed by the costs of other product dependencies, migration, administration, support and training. However, functional dependencies on other Microsoft product lines will eventually sway some organisations to co-migrate, the firm believes.

Regarding legacy operating system installations, Hydrasight claims its research shows a significant portion of Australian SMBs have yet to upgrade to Windows XP, released in 2001.

“The most compelling driver for these organisations will likely be the end-of-support deadlines on currently deployed Windows systems, although organisations resisting vendor-forced upgrading will continue to do so,” says Hydrasight.

Hydrasight believes the most likely way Vista will be introduced to businesses will be via the ad-hoc purchase of new desktops and notebooks.

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