You might call it a tale of three operating systems.
That's the circumstance that Microsoft, its partners, and customers find themselves in as Microsoft works to support Windows XP, promote Windows Vista, and prepare for Windows 7's debut.
First off, Microsoft announced last week that it will stop blocking automatic downloads of Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) and Windows XP SP3 this spring. SP3 is the last planned release of XP, but it has been problematic for some users. Because of that, many companies have blocked downloading the nearly year-old service pack using a blocking tool that Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) provided. Now, that blocking software is set to expire.
"After April 28th, Windows Vista SP1 will be delivered via Windows Update. And after May 19th, Windows XP SP3 will also be delivered via Windows Update," Brandon LeBlanc, Windows communications manager on the Windows client communications team, said in a blog post Thursday.
Although Microsoft is not giving users the ability to block automatic delivery of the service packs any longer, it is not forcing all users to accept the service packs either. In a Q&A, LeBlanc said that the service packs will not install themselves automatically, giving users the opportunity to accept or decline adopting them. The Q&A describes the process.
Microsoft is also moving forward with development of SP2 for Vista, but that service pack is currently running about a month late, with final release now slated for the second quarter. The beta test for Vista SP2 began in early December.
The pending arrival of Vista SP2 may also be helping to warm the hearts of IT decision makers when it comes to Microsoft's black sheep operating system.
According to the latest Forrester Research survey, corporate plans for adoption of Vista are picking up. Following its debut in January 2007, many IT shops decided to wait for the delivery of Windows 7, staying on XP in the meantime.
Now, that attitude seems to be changing. In a report released last week, and entitled "Enterprises Warming To Windows Vista," Forrester analyst Benjamin Gray said the firm's latest survey of 962 IT decision makers found that 31 percent have begun deploying Vista.
Those types of adoption numbers were considered the conventional wisdom when Vista first launched, but the ho-hum response it received in the marketplace eventually cast a malaise over the replacement for Windows XP.
"When specifically asked about their Windows Vista deployment plans, almost one-third responded that they have already started their deployments, with another 26 percent citing plans to start this year or later," the report states.