Canadian companies are neither ready nor interested in deploying Windows Vista, according to research published one week after Microsoft launched the product to businesses.

Softchoice Corp., one of Microsoft’s largest Canadian partners with a major U.S.  operation, conducted a survey of more than 100,000 desktops in 472 North American companies to assess their readiness to install Windows Vista. Roughly half of those users are unable to meet the basis system requirements for the operating system, Softchoice said, while 94 per cent would be unable to meet the requirements for Vista’s premium features.

Softchoice had originally planned to write a two-page article to promote the Vista launch when it discovered the data was indicating major problems among customers, said Dean Williams, the company’s services consultant and author of the report. Softchoice gathered its information through Asset Inventory, a hosted product from TriActive that collects information on a range of hardware and software attributes.

“Lifecycle management simply isn’t a high priority. That is the underpinning of why this gap exists,” Williams said. “Vista is a compelling event – it gives customers an opportunity to get their house in order.”

While many companies have been extending the refresh rate of their desktop infrastructure from about three years to five or more, Williams said Softchoice has learned from earlier research that support costs scale rapidly after the 42-month mark and end up surpassing the year-over-year total cost of ownership.

The older machines are not ready to run Vista in part because 41 per cent of the firms Softchoice polled do not have enough RAM. Those upgrades might not be a big challenge, but processor speed is another story.

“Vista’s minimum CPU requirements have increased 243 per cent from those of Windows XP,” the report says, while, “the speed of the average CPU has only increased 215 per cent over the same period.” 

Williams said most companies see CPU upgrades as too onerous a project and wind up simply purchasing new machines.

Though the Softchoice report makes it look unlikely Microsoft will meet its goal of getting Vista on 20 per cent of all desktops within the first year of its release, Williams said customers should not ignore the OS’s benefits. These include remote security, the ability to reduce the number of unique desktop images across an organization and improved search.

“We believe in Microsoft’s business case for Vista. We believe in the ROI figures,” he said.

Axios Systems, an IT service management company which has offices in Ottawa, meanwhile, released a survey of its own Thursday. Based on its data, only five per cent of IT directors and help desk managers from 240 companies around the world said they were interested in deploying Vista. Instead, 31 per cent said they would be focusing on knowledge management projects, 18 per cent will be setting up VoIP infrastructures, 13 per cent will be installing security software, 12 per cent will be deploying business intelligence software and nine per cent will be looking at SOA technologies.

“I think people just have other priorities,” said Jessica Baculik, Axios’s North American marketing associate. Baculik  acknowledged that lack of system readiness could also put additional pressure on enterprise help desks. “It leads to a lot of other issues if you can’t support it.”

A recent Web poll on ITBusiness.ca also painted a dismal picture for Vista deployments. Of 214 votes received at press time, 71 per cent of readers said they either had no plans or would never be upgrading to the new version of Windows.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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