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Analysts grade Vista's first year: Did not meet expectations

Enterprise adoption is running 9-12 months behind corporate plans in '06

November 9, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - If Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Vista were graded for its first year, its report card would read, "Not meeting expectations," analysts said Friday, a year and a day after the operating system code went "gold" and was sent off for duplication.

On Nov. 8, 2006, Jim Allchin, then the head of Vista development, announced that Vista had gone RTM (released to manufacturing) -- the first step toward its release later in the month to businesses and in late January 2007 to consumers. "This is a good day. I am super-happy," Allchin told reporters in a conference call.

While Vista might be a sales blockbuster -- Microsoft's last quarter broke eight-year-old records, in large part behind Vista -- it hasn't made the kind of progress anticipated in the enterprise world. And if Allchin, who retired as soon as Vista shipped in January, were still with Microsoft, he might not be super-happy now.

"The uptake is much lower than expected," said Michael Silver, an analyst at Gartner Inc. "Organizations really seem to be way behind where they said they would be last year." Silver compared the results of a Gartner survey last month on Vista adoption plans with an identical survey taken in October 2006, and concluded that enterprises are nine to 12 months behind their original expectations.

"They overestimated their vendors' abilities to get Vista-supported versions of their applications done, they underestimated the difficulty of moving to Vista, and they overestimated the value of Vista," Silver said, explaining why corporations have fallen behind their original plans.

"It's just a much slower deployment overall," he said. "Now we're hearing a lot of folks talking about late 2008, early 2009. Before, they'd been saying late 2007, early 2008."

Michael Cherry, an analyst at Decisions on Microsoft, a Kirkland, Wash., research firm, echoed the slow-adoption mantra. "I don't see anyone rushing out to do [the upgrade], especially now that SP1 is on the immediate horizon," said Cherry. In fact, he argued, it's because companies have realized the difficulties in upgrading existing hardware to Vista that deployment plans didn't meet expectations.

"Vista is totally a product for new hardware," said Cherry, who recommends that companies leave existing operating systems in place on current hardware. "I think you need to be real careful of [Vista's] hardware requirements." He said many companies underestimate what's really needed to drive the operating system.

Microsoft has touted huge numbers for Vista, saying just two weeks ago that it has shipped 88 million copies, twice the number of Windows XP shipments during a similar stretch after that operating system's release in 2001. So neither analyst would even come close to calling Vista a bust.

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