With Vista SP1 in the pipeline, is OS's future rosy?

Depending on who you are, the release of Vista Service Pack 1 may be a source of frustration or a cause for excitement.

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When it does come, SP1 promises include fixing application compatibility issues, making moving or copying files faster, and waking up Windows Vista-based PCs from sleep faster.

Why Service Pack 1 won't lead to a Vista surge

Once Service Pack 1 does finally arrive, will the massive update to Vista translate into a more widespread corporate view? Not likely, says Michael Silver, research VP at IT consultancy Gartner.

SP1 is a milestone, says Silver, but it's not the be-all and end-all. SP1 will get a lot of folks thinking about Vista; but adoption rate increases will likely be due to the amount of time Vista's been out and the amount of time third-party software vendors have had to react.

And we're not talking head-spinning increases. Based on informal surveys at a Gartner conference in October, he estimates that only about 20 percent of corporations are planning to implement Vista, although that number might be overly optimistic when the increasing likelihood of a recession is factored in.

Vista's Place in the Microsoft Ecosystem

Whenever Microsoft brings out a new version of Windows, it takes time for the OS and application ecosystem to mature, says Silver. It takes 12 to 18 months for mainstream vendors to support a new OS, and even longer for niche applications from smaller vendors. These are showstoppers when planning a migration, he says.

Also factoring in? XP love. Vista has great things, but they're not so amazing that they pull many folks away from XP.

The first year of Vista's life [in terms of problems] is not all that different from other major OSs' first year of life," says Silver. But previous upgrades to Windows 2000 or XP were fueled by users' frustrations with Windows 98 or previous operating systems; such frustration gave them motivation to put up with a few bumps along the road, Silver says. "So it's really the perception and lack of tolerance people have for hiccups."

That happiness with XP as a stable and appreciated operating system was evident with InfoWorld collection of 92,439 signatures so far (as of 9 am Pacific Time on 14 February) to "save XP". (To that Silver notes that Microsoft will support XP Professional with security fixes into 2014, and most larger organisations with licensing agreements have free downgrade rights available to them.)

Silver expects that in 2008 many organisations will likely bring Vista in piecemeal as old PCs and laptops are replaced with new ones, but widespread Vista migration will not likely happen until 2009.

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