news / tech talk

Windows Vista

by Lee LeClair
As seen in Inside Tucson Business

At this point, most people are aware of the coming release of Windows Vista. Scheduled for deployment to corporate customers late this year and to retailers early next year, there has been a lot of discussion about the software’s readiness, benefits, and tardiness.

The questions for many IT shops and businesses that rely on PCs will be what is the impact of Vista on their business? Should they upgrade? Must they upgrade? And so on. There’s little use in wringing hands over how ready the latest beta or release candidate is. That only affects the timeline for when it will be released. Eventually, it will be released and when it is, Microsoft’s market sway will ensure that you will quickly be unable to buy a PC or laptop without it. So, prepare for a mixed environment for some years.

Is it evil? Will it cause massive problems to have a mixed environment? It’s unlikely. While the new operating system has much new code, Microsoft is too large and cautious to cause problems with the older XP base used throughout the world. So when it arrives, it will likely fit right in with your existing systems. When the new server code arrives, things may get more interesting.

Is there a great benefit? Probably not. Microsoft has learned that people are swayed by eye candy and interesting design so a lot of the interest in the new operating system is not in technical things like a new file system format or more complex underlying issues. Instead, the noise is about the new interface which is flashy if you have the graphics hardware and power to support it. If you do not, it will still work much like XP with older systems. Other interesting things include purported additional security through modern encryption suites and a hardware (motherboard chip) component that only new computers will have. But real added security will be something judged in hindsight.

In the end, Vista will be an evolution of the basic NT OS, just as XP was. It will have advanced with improvements and updates commensurate with the times. But it will not be revolutionary or a major advance. And it will require computer replacement to take full advantage of some of the new features.

Will Vista trigger big new sales of PCs or upgrades? No. People who buy new systems will get Vista because it will come with it. Technophiles will more likely buy new systems rather than upgrade their current systems and they make up a minority anyway. Corporate will not upgrade quickly because there is no compelling reason. The hyped additional security will not be significant and so large corporations will migrate when they are forced to as Microsoft cuts off support for XP as they eventually will.

Backwards compatibility and corporate support will ensure that nothing too radical happens anytime soon. After all, it’s an operating system – it runs hard drives and CD players and applications and holds your files. Not that exciting. So if you are running a business and are concerned about Vista’s impact, relax. The advent of Vista will likely be something of a yawn.

Lee Le Clair is the CTO at Ephibian. His Tech Talk column appears the third week of each month in Inside Tucson Business