To Vista? or not to Vista? That is the question!

With the release of Windows Vista, The question on everyone’s mind is: “Should I upgrade or should I wait?” This is not only a difficult decision for consumers but confusing as well. Microsoft has released six editions with many different features: Starter, (not available in North America) Home, Home Premium, Ultimate, Business, and Enterprise. Vista’s different versions and strict hardware requirements are leaving many consumers scratching their heads. Corporate and business decisions makers have a lot more to consider than which version they will use. Since Windows Vista’s hardware requirements are more demanding than the previous Microsoft OS releases. Business and corporate customers must also figure in hardware upgrade, deployment, and training costs into the equation; they must also think about legacy software compatibility and upgrade, configuration, and service pack issues. In this article I will discuss what a software manager for a large corporation needs to know in making the decision to upgrade to Vista.

Before making the leap to Windows Vista, you must know which version fits your business or personal needs. The first step is to compare Vista features and decide which version is right for you or your business. You should then list the benefits you expect to receive from a Vista upgrade. Furthermore, you should find out if the software you currently use will work with Vista. Software managers must contact their software venders, to see if their software packages need a service pack, a patch, or an upgrade.

After determining that you or your company will benefit from an upgrade to Vista you should make a list of all the systems, you would like to upgrade and their current operating system and hardware configurations. List the age of each system above and its remaining life expectancy. Check each system and verify its Vista upgrade path (either a clean install or In-place installation). Test each system for its Vista hardware compatibility using The Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor (a free download from Microsoft). The advisor will tell you what hardware upgrades you will need in order to bring your computers Vista compliant. Next, List the total cost of any hardware upgrades necessary, the cost of any labor to perform the upgrade, and the cost of the Vista itself. Then determine the per system cost and the age of each system. Compare the total costs of the upgrade to the expected benefits, and finally consider the outcome above vs. buying a new PC with Vista preloaded (Technical Specifications).

If it the upgrade to vista is not mission critical, then it is a good idea to wait a few months until the first service pack is released. Microsoft says that software that runs on your XP system should run on your Vista system, the key word here is “Should” (Microsoft). Do not take that for granted, some software manufactures are still working on a Vista version of their software. When considering Vista, one should check with software venders to ensure Vista compatibility.

First, it is important to understand the range of Vista options. Windows Vista, at the time of its release, will be available in six different flavors. Windows Vista Starter: This edition is a 32-bit only version of Windows aimed at emerging markets, with a very limited features and minimal graphical improvements over Windows XP (Simonds). Your typical customer probably will not want this edition; the better choice would be Windows Vista Home Basic. Microsoft’s Home Basic is the entry-level version of Vista and targets the modest consumer who wants the newer elements of the Vista, but does not need the advanced features like Media Center or DVD Maker. Windows Vista Home Premium adds the Aero Glass interface, tablet PC support, synchronization features and digital media applications (Microsoft ). Home Premium is essentially at the same level as Windows XP Media Center Edition.

Windows Vista Business is the most basic business-oriented edition of the operating system, and includes the ability to participate in a domain, as well as better management and security features, like Group Policy support and Encrypting File System capabilities (Simonds). Windows Vista Enterprise builds on Vista Business and adds the subsystem for UNIX applications support as well as Virtual PC Express (which allows you to run virtual Operating Systems). Vista Enterprise is available only to Microsoft volume-license customers. However if you want all of the features Microsoft has to often then Windows Vista Ultimate is for you it contains all of the goodies in every edition (Microsoft).

For small businesses that run XP Pro, Microsoft recommends reformatting the drive prior to installing Vista (Microsoft ). You need to back up your data, reformat the drive, reinstall your applications and then reinstall your data. Typically, that is when you will find some of your applications will not work with Vista. It is not just your PC either. Upgrading to Vista affects your PC peripherals such as digital cameras, printers and scanners. Part of the upgrade process involves hunting down and installing new drivers to make these devices Vista compliant.

There are two ways to get Windows Vista: 1) Installed on a brand new computer system, this maybe the easiest way to upgrade to Vista, because the hardware is built with Vistas hardware requirements in mind. 2) Upgrade your existing machine, this may be time consuming and difficult for an inexperienced person. Older computers need an extensive hardware upgrade, especially memory and processing power and hard drive space. For businesses, the cost of upgrading to Vista may be a substantial investment.

For business, I would recommend Windows Vista Business Edition. To succeed in today’s changing market, businesses small and large must constantly strive to maximize their competitive advantage. Today’s business applications give the unparalleled ability to expand the impact of the most valuable asset in those businesses: the employee. Windows Vista Business Edition will help people to work more efficiently, help teams to collaborate and communicate more effectively, regardless of their location, and enable IT managers to lower costs and increase security (Simonds).

Works Cited

Microsoft. Small Business Center. 25 March 2007. 1 April 2007 <http://www.microsoft.com/smallbusiness/&gt;.

Microsoft. “Windows Vista Features.” 25 March 2007. microsoft.com. 1 April 2007 <http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/windowsvista/features/default.mspx&gt;.

Simonds, Lauren. Upgrading to Windows Vista: The Great Migration. 25 March 2007. 1 April 2007 <http://www.SmallBusinessComputing.com&gt;.

Technical Specifications. Microsoft Corporation 2007. 25 March 2007 <http://www.zune.net/en-us/meetzune/techspecs/software.htm&gt;.

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