Will SP1 Boost Vista?

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In quarters outside Redmond, Wash., those of us in the tech world have had a good year of bashing Microsoft's newest operating system, Windows Vista. I admit that I'm among the crowd of bemoaners who would rather stay on Windows XP than be pushed over to a new operating system that from what I've seen, read and heard, is fraught with problems.

Still, I fully expected that Windows Vista Service Pack 1 would fix most of the problems, end the complaints and get businesses moving from Windows XP to Windows Vista. Or at least get them thinking about it.

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Now, I am not so optimistic. To be sure, Vista SP1 is not perfect. Granted, there are some delays with its release, but it will come out soon enough. And there have been some compatibility issues—curiously—with third-party security software. But those problems will be resolved as well. While our Everything Channel Test Center didn't wholeheartedly recommend Vista SP1, it didn't exactly pan it, either.

In our internal review of Vista SP1, Test Center Technical Editor Samara Lynn noted improvements in security and administration, and said that the performance improvements brought Vista SP1 to the level of Windows XP SP2, the current gold standard of operating systems.

So, in essence, while there are still a few kinks to work out, and some time to wait, Vista SP1 actually does a lot to fix what was wrong with Vista. With that, the logical conclusion is that Microsoft partners will begin to roll out Vista to business customers in a big way. Here comes the big refresh!

But not so fast. In one ChannelWeb poll, just 13 percent of users thought Vista SP1 would convince businesses to give up Windows XP, while 67 percent thought businesses would hold out for XP SP3. And in another ChannelWeb poll, just 14 percent of users thought a lower-priced Vista would attract business users. The more interesting result is that 34 percent of users thought that businesses would wait for Vista SP2.

Personally, solution providers tell me they are still reluctant to put their reputations on the line for Vista. One Microsoft partner, who asked not to be identified, said that "The strong impression here is that Vista, even at SP1 level, still continues to behave more like beta software than a fully business-capable operating system." Another solution provider called a Vista rollout at a small business customer "nothing but headaches." Needless to say, these solution providers said they will continue to recommend XP Professional over Vista SP1 for their small- to midsize-business customers.

Will Vista SP1 change what you recommend to your customers?

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