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Microsoft To Businesses: Skipping Vista Is Bad

If you're a company that's considering skipping Vista and waiting for Windows 7, Microsoft has the following message for you: Don't.

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According to Microsoft, businesses running XP that decide to give Vista a miss and wait for Windows 7 will not only fail to benefit from the better security, lower management costs, and easier deployment that Vista offers, they'll also face a tougher migration path to Windows 7.

"Customers who are still using Windows XP when Windows 7 releases will have a similar application compatibility experience moving to Windows 7 as exists moving to Windows Vista from Windows XP," Microsoft says in the paper, titled "The Business Value Of Windows Vista."

Vista, of course, has become a punching bag for many Microsoft partners and customers who've had to deal with time-consuming application and driver compatibility issues. But in the paper's executive summary, Mike Nash, corporate vice president of Windows Product Management, describes the current state of device and application compatibility in Vista as "dramatically better."

Todd Swank, vice president of marketing at Nor-Tech, a Burnsville, Minn.-based system builder, sees the paper as Microsoft's attempt to avoid painting Windows 7 as a panacea for the pain some customers and partners have experienced in migrating to Vista.

"Microsoft is basically saying, if you don't address your issues today, and think you can just transition from XP to Windows 7, you're going to be facing the same problems," said Swank. "Microsoft isn't going to make Windows 7 more compatible with XP than Vista."

The appearance of the paper illustrates the delicate balancing act Microsoft will be performing for the next couple of years as it tries to simultaneously deflect attention away from Windows 7 while also talking up the improvements it's making to Vista's successor.

The paper also shows that Microsoft still hasn't conquered the challenge of showing businesses that tangible value exists with Vista. In the executive summary, Nash offers some sage advice to companies that are thinking about migrating.

"If I ran an IT organization, I would first test and remediate my applications on Windows Vista. Then I would make sure that all new machines had 2 GB of RAM and run Windows Vista Enterprise Service Pack 1," Nash said.

While it's fair to say that some of the anti-Vista vitriol that exists in the market has been exaggerated, some VARs believe that Vista's perception problems have more to do with Microsoft's marketing tactics than with technological shortcomings.

Nash, it will be remembered, has firsthand experience of the perils of running Vista on subpar hardware.

Earlier this year, during the discovery phase of the pending class action case against Microsoft over its Windows Vista Capable marketing campaign, lawyers for the plaintiffs used an email from Nash to show that Microsoft executives were aware of Vista's hefty hardware requirements.

"I PERSONALLY got burnt ... Are we seeing this from a lot of customers? ... I now have a $2,100 e-mail machine," Nash wrote in the email.

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