InfoWorld's petition asking Microsoft not to discontinue Windows XP after June 30 has garnered more than 65,000 signatures since Jan. 14. And with those signatures have come thousands of reader comments that reveal why many IT organizations are up in arms about the June 30 deadline to retire XP.
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Three reasons dominate the resistance to Vista: performance, compatibility, and cost. All of them can be overcome with investments in hardware, software, training, and support. The question is whether the upgrade will help businesses increase sales, perform better, or serve customers more effectively -- especially when other IT initiatives with more ROI potential, from greening the datacenter to more effective partner integration, may fall back in the queue as a result. A recent Gartner study confirms that such direct business benefit is now driving IT budgets, not new technology for its own sake.
Lots of pain, little gain
John Alber, CTO at Bryan Cave, a large, tech-savvy law firm in Los Angeles, was willing to go on the record when he expressed misgivings about moving to Vista over the same trio of issues. Many other IT professionals were not, due to fears about damaging their company's relationship with Microsoft. Off the record, one technology vendor told InfoWorld that it has indefinitely postponed its conversion to Windows Vista after several months of testing because the demonstrable benefit was elusive. Similarly, the IT staff at a large California school district has no plans to convert to Vista; its technology director said that Vista takes twice the hardware resources.
In some cases, the changes that Vista brings reduce productivity or increase costs just to maintain existing capabilities. That's why John Hawkins, CEO of Adviser Media, ended up removing Vista from a new laptop and then from his company, which maintains several how-to sites aimed at baby boomers. "Whatever I tried to do, the new computer fought me -- and usually, it won. By 'do,' I mean basic stuff: save a file, connect to my office network and the Internet, turn on, turn off, copy some files. It's my computer -- shouldn't I be allowed to do these things? Nope, not without lots of effort, wasted time, and sometimes, complete failure," he wrote in his blog.
Basic incompatibilities also drive him to go back to XP, Hawkins told InfoWorld: "My 'favorite' is that Vista doesn't work with many Wi-Fi access points (the main reason our users demanded a return to XP) -- and Microsoft's fix is to tell users to replace them!" Scott Pam shared this frustration: "There are lots of incompatibilities on drivers," noted the independent IT consultant in Palm Desert, Calif.