Gartner paints a clearer Vista picture

The analyst group repositions its advice on Vista. Instead of "ignore it and wait," the group says "prepare for change."

Gartner Group has clarified its advice for when users should consider moving to Microsoft Vista, saying that organizations still running Windows 2000 should consider upgrading as soon as Vista ships.

Previously, Gartner had advised that "companies shouldn't rush to upgrade to Microsoft Windows Vista" and that "most firms could safely hold back until 2008."

A second research note has now been issued about the upcoming update to Windows, because--Gartner claimed--its recommendations had "been misinterpreted in some instances." While its original advice did not appear to change, Gartner is warning that anyone who wants to deploy Vista in 2008 needs to do plenty of preparation work.

"Deployments don't just happen overnight. It will take many organizations about 18 months from the time Windows Vista ships to test applications, get independent software vendors to support applications, build images and run pilots. Organizations that ignore Vista until 2008 will not be ready to deploy it until 2010," explained Gartner vice-president of research Mike Silver.

Silver added that "the new research note does not replace the original. We stand by our analysis of the features in Windows Vista. Further, we have not changed the advice or recommendation."

Gartner's advice on Vista deployment schedules only applies to those companies that wish to deploy the operating system by 2008.

In the original research note, titled "Ten reasons you should and shouldn't care about Microsoft's Windows Vista client," Gartner highlighted some of the weaknesses in Microsoft's platform strategy. The research pointed out that the majority of improvements in Vista will be security-related and most of this functionality "is available via third-party products today."

While Vista will feature "offer incremental, evolutionary improvements" over its predecessors, XP users should "pursue a strategy of managed diversity." The company recommended only bringing in Vista on new machines and not until 2008, allowing for time to prepare the ground.

The main problem areas are for users of Windows 2000, Gartner said. "Organizations running Windows 2000 absolutely need to be working on Windows Vista from the time Microsoft releases the product to manufacturing and should be talking to vendors of critical applications to discuss application support timelines before Windows Vista ships."

The main reason for haste, the analysts said, is that "several clients have already reported that the most recent versions of applications from several vendors are not supported on Windows 2000. Another milestone to be aware of is the end of Microsoft extended support, which will come in mid-2010".

This does not apply to XP users who "could wait a little longer to start deploying Windows Vista and can migrate as they buy new hardware, leaving older PCs running Windows XP in place until they are replaced (a slow roll vs the 'forklift' migrations Windows 2000 organizations need to do)".

Colin Barker reported for ZDNet UK.

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