Industry surveys have highlighted reluctance among a majority of businesses to move to Microsoft's new Windows Vista operating system. But because it is shipped by default on most new PCs, Vista is turning up unexpectedly in many companies.
After questioning more than 200 customers at recent presentations, IRIS product director Paul Sparkes found that 59 percent had no immediate plans to move to Vista or to purchase Vista-compatible PCs.
"However, calls to our customer support teams are already proving that Microsoft Vista is arriving through the back door for many businesses," he said. "Replacing just one broken machine could mean that they can tear up their carefully laid plans for a managed roll out and they will be forced into running Vista whether they want to or not."
The IRIS findings are broadly in line with other industry soundings. A survey of 961 IT professionals by King Research, for example, found that 90 percent had concerns about the migration to Vista, and 48 percent had not deployed it nearly a year after its commercial release.
Clive Longbottom, an analyst with Quocirc, told ZDNet that the practical difficulties of upgrading desktop machines were holding Vista back.
"Old hardware has to be checked, so Vista is a new-build, new-install solution," he said.
Back at IRIS, Sparkes said that the company's software was Vista compliant, but users needed to update it to run on the new operating system. "We're comfortable with the product, but we're hearing instances where many Windows products that don't have current maintenance and support are ceasing to operate."
The IRIS customer support team started to field queries about Vista-related issues in June this year, and by August, it had logged around 100 instances, he said.
The problem for many Windows users is that unlike Vista, previous versions back to Windows 95 did not change radically between versions, so an application that ran happily under Windows 98 would also work with XP.
"Under the guise of security, Vista has changed all that," said Sparkes "The Vista architecture has been improved to protect us as users, so Windows software products need to be upgraded to run within that framework. This will probably come as a surprise to users."
As a technologist himself, Sparkes said, "I'm not complaining about Vista, it's technology moving on. There are some advantages with Vista, such as caching that can remember the software you load everyday. So it will know you always load Exchequer at 8am every day and pre-loads it for you. We are finding that some Vista machines improve their speed over time, rather than the other way round," he said.
"Like any new operating system, it requires training for staff and IT resource to support that platform. Moving to Vista should be an active choice and people show know they've got the correct infrastructure in place to support their users. Our only complaint is the lack of education from Microsoft about what the implications might be."
By John Stokdyk, reporting for our sister site, www.accountingweb.co.uk.