Lacking IT Tools for Vista

Readers' concerns about corporate rollouts

In yesterday’s Vista Update newsletter (, I wrote about Windows Vista’s IT-readiness and questioned how quickly IT would be deploying Vista. I wondered whether Microsoft was simply assuming that Vista would enter organizations through hardware upgrades. Readers have made some really good points in response to that article.

Although companies have Software Assurance (SA) agreements, which means the cost of the OS itself isn’t a factor in their decision to upgrade, as one reader commented, “for corporate IT the cost and complexity of converting, upgrading, and assuring existing applications becomes the biggest issue by far.” Complicating this factor is the lack of standard IT tools. The same reader said, “For example, right now there is no ability to deploy Vista over XP into the corporate environment via a fully automated, in-situ, unattended upgrade with any reasonable expectation that things will continue to work as they did before.”

Another reader added, “A couple of us within the IT team installed Vista Ultimate (from TechNet) to find that the IT tools that we regularly use did not work. It was basic stuff like the Users and Computers, MMC, and most of the tools from the adminpak.msi. Now as most IT admins will be the first to put new software on their machines, it seems strange that MS has not bothered to release updated admin tools, especially when the Business edition has been available for corporate customers since November.”

The issue of Vista’s lack of IT tools comes up very frequently. I’ll be eager to hear how Microsoft will address this issue.

By completely unrelated coincidence, yesterday I received an email from one of our authors sharing a message from the university at which this author is an adjunct faculty member. This university is strongly discouraging faculty from using Vista or Office 2007. Here’s the memo:

We have had many questions regarding the new Microsoft Vista operating system and Office 2007.  Vista has a completely new and different look and feel than Windows XP.  It has been designed to look much more like the Apple Mac interface.  UTS has been testing Vista for several months.  At this time, UTS is recommending that faculty and staff NOT upgrade to Vista.  UTS is NOT supporting Vista at this time.  There are many incompatibilities and many computers are not able to run the program.  …

There are many other programs that will not work with Vista without updates if available.  If you are using specialized software for your office or curriculum, you should test it for compatibility before installing Vista.

Because of the extreme graphics use by Vista, you will see a marked decrease in performance with only 128 megabytes of graphics memory.  Drivers for all sound systems, graphics cards, printers, and other peripherals must be replaced.  XP drivers will not work, so Vista will replace drivers if available, or replacement hardware will need to be purchased.  For example, Vista could not run my Logitech wireless mouse.  Laptop users will see battery life substantially reduced. 

Vista also requires internet access.  Even though licensed by the University, each individual copy must contact a central control server and be authenticated.  After the first authentication, Vista will re-authenticate each month.  If it cannot authenticate, it goes into reduced functionality mode.  Reduced functionality mode will not allow use of programs, but will allow partial use of Internet Explorer and shut down after an hour's use.  This is to give time to find a license or connect to the internet.

I know there is a great deal of hype on the news and elsewhere about Vista, but we need to wait until the bugs and problems with our existing systems are worked out before rolling it out to the Campus.  I would not anticipate a campus rollout until this fall.

At this time, we see little advantage to installing either \[Vista or Office 2007\].

     So far, I haven't heard from anyone who is rolling out Vista or who has already done so. I'd love to hear from you if your organization is already moving forward with Vista.

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