Small businesses moving to Vista fastest, report says

Nearly half of businesses are in some phase of preparing to update desktops to Windows Vista, with small businesses moving the fastest to implement the operating system, according to a report released Monday.

The number of organizations evaluating and testing Vista increased from 29% in February 2007 to 48% by early November, according to the report, commissioned by reseller CDW Corp. and based on information collected by Walker Information Inc. from 772 IT decision-makers.

Moreover, about 35% of companies are currently implementing Vista or have implemented it already, compared with 12% last February, the report said.

This is the third in a wave of reports on Vista adoption that CDW has done since the operating system was in its final testing phases in October 2006. In the latest report, which tracked Vista adoption from Oct. 31 to Nov. 7, 2007, small businesses accounted for 53% of those companies either using or evaluating Vista.

The higher-education segment came in second, with 49% reporting that their organisations are evaluating or using the operating system, while midsize to large businesses were third, with 48%.

Because of lingering hardware and application compatibility issues between companies' existing IT assets and Vista, CDW still advises customers to move to Vista on a case-by-case basis, said David Cottingham, director of product and partner management at CDW.

In the case of small businesses, they may not have the application or hardware dependencies on Windows XP that larger businesses have.

"There are still definitely concerns when you get into custom applications in industries that will run on XP," Cottingham said. "If [companies] have custom applications that don't run on Vista yet, they're going to stay on XP."

CDW is still selling both XP and Vista, but Cottingham said that the company does not have data on which version of the operating system is selling more now that Vista has been available to businesses for more than a year. In September, Microsoft had to extend the OEM license for XP for five more months through June 30, 2008, because of customer demand for the software.

Microsoft had planned to stop selling XP through OEMs and retailers on Jan. 31.

For its part, Microsoft has made strides to resolve compatibility issues with updates to Vista, and the numbers from CDW's survey seem to reflect that. In February, 50% of companies said they were buying additional hardware and software assets to migrate to Vista; by November, that number was down to 44%.

Many believe it's inevitable that any businesses currently running XP will eventually move to Vista; it's just a matter of when. The release of Vista Service Pack 1, which is scheduled to be generally available by the end of March, should serve to increase the numbers of companies adopting Vista.

Microsoft on Friday issued a public refresh of the first release candidate for SP1, which suggests that the software update will be in its final release according to schedule.

However, there is some belief among industry watchers that if Microsoft releases the next version of Windows, code-named Windows Vista 7, by its target of late next year to early 2010, some businesses may opt to skip Vista and move directly from XP to Windows 7 instead.

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