IT managers unfazed by XP cut-off

IT shops wait for suppliers to switch

Despite Microsoft's plan to phase out OEM shipments of Windows XP in a bid to push customers to Vista, Australian IT managers said they are sticking with the older operating system even if the software giant pulls support.

With enterprises just completing Windows XP upgrades, there is little enthusiasm to make the move to Microsoft's latest operating system, Windows Vista.

Senior IBRS analyst Dr Kevin McIsaac said he finds similar sentiment in the medium to large business customers he liaises with. He said while the move is typical of Microsoft's upgrade strategy, there are few benefits for making the switch to Vista.

"There are no clear benefits to justify the compatibility and upgrading issues that come with switching a fleet's operating system," McIsaac said.

He said SMBs would suffer the most because they receive new devices with default configuration settings installed, unlike large enterprises which have OEMs install hardware with custom images.

"Microsoft has made IT managers the meat in the sandwich because Vista is being pushed on them, and they'll either run a mixed fleet or have to re-image each machine."

Ron Dale, IT manager at Bega Valley Council, said the council will stick with XP well past the OEM cut-off.

"I have no plans to move to Vista and this announcement doesn't make any difference at all," Dale said.

"Our decision [to migrate to Vista] is based on whether our third-party suppliers will support it, which they don't at the moment."

Middletons systems engineer Tim Osmer shares the same view. He said his IT shop will remain in the XP camp, despite the opportunity to upgrade amid a variety of projects.

"We are happy with XP and I'm in no rush to run out and convert to Vista just because of the [cessation of OEM] shipments of XP," Osmer said.

A lead project manager for a NSW private hospital, who requested anonymity, agreed with comments on a Silicon Valley.com blog suggesting the move could push users to Linux.

"Since [Microsoft] released Vista, there has been a plethora of bugs, weak security and performance problems, so why in the world would they want more people to experience it?" he said.

"Its comparable to flooding a small pipe with too much water; when users resist, they will spillout and try Linux instead, and that will be the end of it."

However, IBRS's McIsaac threw cold water on the prospect of a Linux migration. "Although Linux is great, users won't hurry to Linux [and] they won't rush to Vista," he said.

Microsoft said in a statement that Vista is an improvement on XP and its plans to cease XP shipments is standard practice.

"It's standard practice to allow OEMs, retailers, and system builders to continue offering the previous version of Windows for a certain period of time after a new version is released, and this information as it applies to Windows XP has been available to our partners and to the public since last year," the company stated.

Vista is dwarfing XP in terms of initial sales. Microsoft has reported it shipped more than 20 million copies of Vista in its first month of availability, between January 30 and February 28, which equates to two months of XP sales for the same period.

Forrester vice president and research director Simon Yates said Vista migration will rise as XP sales fall, noting that the continuation of XP support will reduce the likelihood of users making the Linux switch.

"If the world still wants to buy XP and threatens to jump to Linux, Microsoft can still change its mind and extend [XP support]," Yates said.

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