Youve heard and yawned at all the security promises but have you been watching how the Democratic Congress wants to hold companies and executives criminally responsible for lost company data? Sure you can add a third party product to Windows XP and hope it takes the stress (or the user doesnt turn it off).
The advantage to Vista is that it more transparently manages the process. The users ability to turn off security is not only more difficult once set by IT, but the user may not even want to because the performance hit is nearly imperceptible when done as part of a new hardware roll out.
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Think of what happens to the CIO when the first executive gets criminally charged with data loss. Who do you think the CEO is going to designate as his bunk buddy in the Federal Martha Stewart room once he finds out that Vista might have been able to prevent this problem?
(By the way, Security is also bolstered by current TPM hardware and up-to-date security technology like the Alcatel-Lucent Project Evros, which allows the instant remote locking of all laptop data even if the laptop battery is removed when the signal is sent.)
While I understand you can meet all kinds of overly close friends at facilities like this, Im sure your executives would rather spend their twilight years at home and not at a government sponsored detention facility.
Obsolescence: Make It Stop
You dont have unlimited time. Putting an old OS on new hardware, however common, is one of the quickest ways to discover how good your PC supplier isnt. While XPs official life has been extended, unofficially top support and developer resources begin moving to the new platform once it starts shipping leaving the marginal or outsourced talent behind.
This means that, starting this month, support on XP will start to degrade over time. Getting things done efficiently on that platform will be increasingly difficult. Depending on how complex the environment is this could become painful in 12 months and very painful in 24, as the needed resources become less and less capable of dealing with complex support requests.
This isnt just a question of Microsoft support. People like to work with the most up-to-date tools, and the best support people often get to vote on what platforms they will support. This extends downtime, results in cascading problems where one thing being fixed breaks something else. Ugly things can happen to support budgets and internal user satisfaction metrics. Not to mention pissing off influential executives.
Timing and Preparation
Unless you set a budget last year, you arent doing Vista this year. However, some folks are and you probably should be watching them closely for tips and to get a sense for how you will build justification for your own upgrade.
The next window, no pun intended, is in 2008. So youd better be thinking about setting a budget this year to at least get those who are likely to be the most exposed on current generation hardware migrated to Vista during your best 2008 deployment period. You should also begin cycling in Vista as part of the hardware renewal cycle as soon as software qualification is done. And that should probably enter planning even sooner.
It would be wise to put some of your lead people on Vista immediately and pick up a book called Windows Vista Secrets for them to use as a reference so they can begin to get comfortable with the product and test compatibility with core internal apps. These lead users will become kind of an interoperability bellwether as to how well you can integrate Vista in your shop while much of the rest of the machines still run Windows XP.
Whether you actually move in 2007, 2008, or 2009, start your planning now and make sure youre capable of responding intelligently with a plan when your executives ask for one. Because, chances are, given current trends, before the end of this year they probably will.