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Vista shops eye quick path to Windows 7, XP shops likely to resist

Windows enterprises running Microsoft Vista will likely embrace Windows 7 quickly but IT managers still on XP will stay loyal as long as they can.

There appears to be a pent up demand for Windows 7 coming from IT shops who have already moved to Vista, and who have suffered through their share of bugs, incompatibilities and driver issues. IT shops running Windows XP, however, seem to be in no rush to upgrade.

"Microsoft didn't plan what happened with Vista, but it will end up working in their favor now, because people who did use it will be very ready to upgrade," said Patrick Hynds, an IT engineer with numerous Microsoft certifications, who is also president of N.H.-based Critical Sites. "I think of Windows 7 as a really, really big Vista service pack. It is Vista done right, and everyone on Vista will upgrade."

Hynds uses Windows XP and is usually quick to adopt Microsoft technology."I have to admit that I skipped Vista because of its issues," he said. "For me to pass it up means a lot."

For end users, the biggest improvements between Vista and Windows 7 are said to be faster boot times, more intuitive graphical user interfaces and overall better performance. Microsoft Windows 7 will be released to manufacturing at the end of this month. General availability is slated for October 22.

Paul Braga, an IT consultant with Image Quotient, a Novato, Calif.-based Microsoft partner, runs Windows 7 RC build 7100. "It's better than Vista, but still has issues with runaway applications pegging the CPU," he said. The worst offenders are Real Player, Adobe Reader downloads with Firefox and anti-viruses of just about any kind. Explorer, not IE, is still slow and crashes, but not as often as with Vista."

Microsoft said it expects 80% of IT pros to upgrade to Windows 7 within the next 36 months and 50% of ITDMs plan to upgrade to Windows 7 as soon as it is available, according to data presented by the company at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference earlier this week.

But it appears upgrade plans depend on the version IT pros use, IT shops are loyal to XP and in no rush to upgrade to Windows 7.

"It seems like Windows XP is going to need some sort of formal ritual in order to retire it from the IT community," said David Reynolds, a systems manager with the Rhode Island Blood Center. "Like most people, I am dreading the upgrades, and XP SP3 is a pretty solid operating system right now in most shops."

Mike Snelling, an IT pro who works with the California State Lottery Commission, runs about 700 installations of Windows XP SP2. "There is no pent up demand to move to Windows Vista, and Windows 7 is not even on our horizon," he said.

Despite the age of XP, there aren't enough compelling business reasons to upgrade to Windows 7, or enough necessary applications in Microsoft's reincarnated OS, Snelling said. Plus, "more and more third party applications are web-based."

"I don't want to compare a complex operating system to a simple appliance, but let's face it. My 1979 toaster still makes perfectly good toast," Snelling added.

And Braga said though he is already on the Windows 7 upgrade path, he has considered reverting back to XP. "XP Pro was actually better than Vista on my system and there have been times I considered going back to it and just getting a newer system for Windows 7…XP is still a very good OS."

Let us know what you think about the story; email Bridget Botelho, News Writer

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