Vista Update, Feb. 15, 2007: Is Vista "IT-Ready"?

Vista UPDATE, Feb.15, 2007

Is Vista "IT-Ready"? ============================================

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- Is Vista "IT-Ready"? by Karen Forster
- What Users Need to Know, by Kathy Ivens

- Microsoft Settles Suit

- Featured white paper, Web & live events, announcements
- Threads: Windows XP forum and Windows Vista forum
- This month's Reader Challenge answers URL

- Windows Vista deployment with matrix42
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==== COMMENTARY: Is Vista "IT-Ready"? ====
by Karen Forster, [email protected]

According to Microsoft’s goofy marketing slogan, Windows Vista is "People Ready." "People Ready"? As opposed to what? "Computer Ready"? Given how long Vista was in development, I guess it had better be both people- and computer-ready. But here’s a more relevant question: Is Vista "IT-Ready"?

The quick answer is that Vista is a whole lot more IT-ready than Windows XP was when it launched in 2001. Microsoft provided no deployment tools or IT guidance at XP’s launch. XP application compatibility tools were an afterthought. Security-consciousness came well after XP’s launch and culminated only when XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) was released in 2004. But despite these shortcomings at XP’s launch, the market was ripe for XP, and nobody was clinging to Windows Millennium Edition (Me) or Windows 95 because they were "good enough."

All that has changed with the launch of Vista. A comprehensive set of deployment tools and guidance has been available for months: that is, Microsoft Solution Accelerator for Business Desktop Deployment 2007 (BDD) And you can find the Vista Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) at

In addition to ACT, Microsoft is addressing app compat through its acquisition of SoftGrid, which Microsoft describes as an "application virtualization technology \[that\] can help significantly reduce the amount of application compatibility testing typically needed when deploying new applications, upgrades, and patches. Applications are served centrally and delivered directly to the user’s desktop in an isolated, virtualized image, minimizing application-related alterations to the operating system and compatibility challenges with other applications." (For more information, see ) And of course, security is a primary focus of Vista, which Microsoft calls the most secure OS ever.

However, IT pros still overwhelmingly tell me that they aren’t moving their organizations to Vista any time soon (although just about everyone is adopting Vista for personal use). Despite ACT and SoftGrid, app compat is still a factor, especially in connection with drivers and the need to upgrade hardware. And for many organizations XP is "good enough."

One reader told me, "I know Microsoft claims that Vista will cost less to maintain, but even they admit that it's a small margin. I expect that savings would disappear if they included end-user and IT retraining, not to mention the cost of porting the old apps to the new OS. By the time that margin of cost reduction pays for itself it will be time to move the next OS. We'll only be replacing XP as part of the hardware replacement cycle."

So is Vista IT-ready? Maybe that question is moot. I think this reader’s comment actually touches on an interesting point. The Microsoft folks seem to believe they’ve done everything necessary to make Vista ready for IT: Deployment and app compat tools await you, and security is baked in. But even if XP is good enough for your needs, Microsoft seems to feel no need to spend time persuading you of Vista’s value, because it knows sooner or later you’ll have to replace your hardware. And when you replace your hardware, you’re getting Vista--ready or not.

Still, I think it’s unwise of Microsoft to take IT adoption of Vista for granted. How fast will the hardware upgrade cycle really go? In two years, Microsoft is scheduled to release Vista’s successor, the new Windows version code-named Vienna. And Vienna will supposedly have yet another new UI, designed by the creators of the Office 2007 Ribbon UI. How many IT organizations will just skip Vista along with its learning curve and wait for Vienna? (For more about Vienna, see Paul Thurrott’s "No News Yet About Next Windows Version,"

Here’s some food for thought: Although the market was ripe for XP, up until about a year ago, the majority of business desktops were still on the Windows 2000 client, not XP. If IT waited five years to adopt XP, is it unreasonable to think organizations might skip Vista?

I’m not taking issue with Vista itself. I use it and love it. What I’m wondering is whether Microsoft’s Windows division, which is now led by Senior Vice President Steven Sinofsky, who has been in charge of the Office group, really understands the concerns IT pros face. Given the reasons why Sinofsky was put in charge of Windows (i.e., the long delay in shipping Vista), I’m willing to bet Vienna will ship on time. But will Sinofsky’s leadership provide real reasons for IT to choose Vista, or will Microsoft just arrogantly assume Vista will make its way onto business desktops through hardware upgrades, no matter what?

Please let me know how you're using Vista and whether you've already deployed it or soon will be deploying it in your organization. I’d love to hear about your experiences and any tips you have for other readers. We’ll publish your best submissions and tips, and we'll pay $100 for the tips.

In the meantime, whether you’re ready for Vista or getting ready, here are some resources to help you:

Hardware Requirements:

Checking PCs for compatibility:

Upgrade paths:

Windows Vista Security:

Vista Migration Security Risks:

Forefront Client Security podcast:


==== What Users Need to Know ====
by Kathy Ivens, [email protected]

Useful Shortcuts

During a coffee break at a seminar, I was chatting with some IT pros about user productivity. Most of the participants expressed amazement, as well as dismay, about the extra work users go through to perform simple tasks. For example, to navigate to a data file or open software, users might frequently take multiple actions--opening dialog boxes or menus, expanding drive and folder trees, and so on. IT pros who understand the concepts of folders, files, and file associations find it hard to believe that users don’t "get it." Instead, users perform long series of memorized keystrokes and mouse clicks to get where they need to be.

The conversation moved to a lively debate about whether the problem arises because corporate training neglects conceptual instructions or because most users aren't capable of understanding the concepts. My own experience is that many users are capable of learning concepts so they can become more efficient—they just don't want to learn the concepts. I often hear, "Don’t explain it to me, just write down the steps." I don’t understand how anyone with reasonable intelligence can adopt that attitude, but I’m afraid it’s rather prevalent.

Putting shortcuts on the Quick Launch toolbar, or on the desktop, would save most users lots of work. Some of the IT pros said they spend a lot of time creating shortcuts for users. But why not teach users how to create their own shortcuts? As long as you provide specific instructions, complete with numbered steps, you can present such a lesson even to users who don’t want to tax their brains with conceptual information. Here are some sample instructions that use conceptual statements disguised as numbered steps to teach your users about shortcuts. You can adapt these instructions and conceptual statements to apply to Vista, XP, or any OS you happen to be working with.

1. The secret to creating shortcuts easily is to make sure some part of the desktop is accessible, which means keeping folder and application windows reduced in size (not maximized).

2. To create a shortcut to a folder, including a mapped drive, open the Computer folder, and drag the folder’s icon to the desktop. Release the mouse button and select Create Shortcuts Here.

3. To create a shortcut to a file, open the folder that contains the file and drag the file’s listing to the desktop while holding down the right mouse button. Release the mouse button and select Create Shortcuts Here. This also works for files that are in folders you see when you work in the Network folder and then double-click the listing for a remote computer to display its shared folders.

4. To create a shortcut to software, drag the program’s listing from the Programs menu to the desktop while holding down the right mouse button. Release the mouse button and select Create Shortcuts Here. (This is great for users who have been using multiple clicks to get to Freecell.)

5. To copy a useful desktop shortcut to the Quick Launch toolbar, drag the desktop shortcut’s icon while holding down the left mouse button.

6. To personalize your shortcuts, right-click the shortcut icon, choose Properties, and select Change Icon. Select a graphic that pleases you and click OK twice.

7. To remove a shortcut you no longer need, select it and press the Delete key. You are deleting only the shortcut, not the folder, file, or program it represents.

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==== NEWS & VIEWS: Microsoft Settles Suit ====
by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Microsoft on Wednesday reached a preliminary settlement in its Iowa class action antitrust lawsuit. Because the settlement is still awaiting court approval, however, the terms of the settlement will not be released until later this year. The plaintiffs had been seeking $330 million from Microsoft.

When the case was filed in 2000, plaintiffs in the Iowa antitrust case alleged that Microsoft had overcharged customers in that state for software purchased since 1994. Despite similarities with the nearly 100 other state-based antitrust cases that Microsoft has faced over the years, the Iowa case differs from all but one other case in a single key way: It actually went all the way to trial. A class action suit in Minnesota also went to trial, but was settled two months after the trial began. All of the other state-based suits against Microsoft were dismissed or settled prior to trial.

As has been the case in most other state-based cases Microsoft has settled, proceeds from the Iowa settlement will at least partially be used to purchase computers and software for underprivileged schools: Half of any unclaimed funds will be provided to the Iowa Department of Education for this purpose.

"One of the best aspects of resolving this case is that we can provide much needed resources to underprivileged schools," said Microsoft associate general counsel Rich Wallis. "We're happy to have this matter behind us so we can focus on the future and build the next generation of products and innovations that enrich the lives of people around the world."

Polk County District Court will hold a hearing in April for preliminary approval of the settlement. If approved, the settlement will be finalized in late August.

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==== THREADS and ANSWERS ====

Thread--What's going on in the Windows XP forum today?
"Please help me: Computer network XP forgot password"

Thread--Got "Issues"? Check out the Windows Vista forum!
"Burn to disc issue"

Answers--to this month's Reader Challenge




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by Caroline Marwitz, [email protected]

matrix42 announced an add-on to Empirum, its lifecycle management suite for networked devices. The add-on automates the deployment of Windows Vista. Empirum also determines whether enterprise hardware is sufficient to run Vista and alerts you as to possible application compatibility problems. Its backup feature lets you backup and restore settings to desktops after Vista migration occurs, reducing configuration time.

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