Should you switch to Vista?

April 2 2008

Why mess with a good thing?

That’s what businesses are asking as they ponder whether to have a go with Microsoft’s latest operating system, Windows Vista, for their workstations.

A year after Vista entered the market, it’s estimated only about one percent of corporate workstations are running the new operating system.

Instead, business owners are opting to hang onto Vista’s predecessor, Windows XP. First introduced in 2001, the XP system has been through two major upgrades to correct problems with reliability and security. By this point, the system is stable, familiar to both users and techs, compatible with just about any device or third-party software you could buy, and running on an estimated 400 million workstations around the globe.

Meanwhile, Vista received lukewarm reviews, takes more resources, and has kinks that aren’t worked out yet. No wonder Microsoft faces an uphill battle to gain acceptance for Vista!

So is Vista worth it for you? We have to look at two situations:

Should you upgrade your current system? Generally, no. The advantages Vista offers don’t offset the costs of upgrading (see related story, "Upgrading to Vista: Why it's a spendy proposition"), and Windows XP remains a viable option for years to come. Microsoft intends to halt further retail sales of XP as of July 1, 2008, but licensing work-arounds exist.

As for support, Microsoft has committed to XP through the end of 2011. Some predict it will cave to consumer demand and extend even beyond that date.

What if you’re buying a new system? That’s a tougher call. Starting from scratch, you might find it advantageous to go ahead and pony up for the faster machines Vista requires, knowing you’ll be positioned for whatever comes next.

Also, for now at least, Microsoft is offering a free XP downgrade option on new machines loaded with Vista (though you make the switch yourself). So you can use XP while retaining your Vista rights.

If you can’t decide which way to go, you can always wait things out another couple of years… Microsoft promises we’ll have the next version of Windows (code-named “Vienna”) by late 2009/early 2010! Stay tuned.