Tuesday, August 04, 2009

OS Wars.... Microsoft have just shot themselves in the foot.

If I was the IT Director of a large company with a large user base running Microsoft Windows, I would be very concerned at the moment.

I would have looked at the cost of upgrading to Vista a couple of years back, considered what benefits it would bring and made a decision about whether to invest in upgrading all my users to Vista. Most large companies decided that Vista is far more resource hungry than XP meaning a large proportion of their existing computers would struggle to run Vista. The specialist applications a company uses would be thoroughly tried and tested, and the users are happy with them. These applications in all probability would need upgrading or replacing to run on Vista. And the benefits to upgrading are ...... transparent windows!

So to make my first sentence more specific, I would have a large user base running Microsoft Windows XP. I had no compelling reason to rollout Vista.

Don't get me wrong here - I know Vista and have been running Vista on my home PC for about 18 months. My advice to my next door neighbour would be if they had enough power and memory to run it, and if all the programs and hardware you use work I would recommend switching to Vista. But I would not buy a new PC just so I could have Vista.

So most large corporations with thousands of PCs decided that Vista would be a waste of money that they did not need. So they didn't. This is no secret and Microsoft are well aware of this. I have lost count of the number of times XP's support life has been extended.

For some reason, Microsoft has now actually switched off support for XP. It officially went end-of-life on April 14th 2009. What this means is Microsoft are no longer helping people with problems, or writing patches to resolve issues that are still to be discovered.

This is not a situation a large corporation should find itself in. The IT director and board made the correct decision not to upgrade. What does Microsoft expect all these companies to do now? Upgrade to Vista for a few months until Windows 7 is launched? Run unsupported until Windows 7 is released *and* has had chance to be tested?

If it were me, I would be saying that we are seriously exposed, and must take steps to avoid being in this situation again. How? Well now we have to upgrade everything in the next 12 months, I would be evaluating the other options beside Windows. In fact I would be very seriously looking for an option other than windows so Microsoft cannot do this to us again.

Linux is now much easier to use - it is much more plug-and-play. Mac OS is growing in the size of its installed user base, and all Macs now have Intel processors, which makes it much easier to run Mac OS on a standard PC (I have it running in VMWare and it runs a treat! VMWare Fusion on the Mac lets users run Mac OS as a virtual machine. And the PC can run with a couple of little tweaks!) Google are working on a new operating system. I think in the next 12 months we will see cheaper alternatives to windows that are actually viable! I forgot to mention the unreliability of Windows. People just think it is normal to wait when a PC freezes, normal to restart apps, or to reboot to fix odd problems.

If I were Microsoft I would not have switched off XP support until Windows 7 was starting to be taken up on a large scale. Because they have I would have a very good argument to try and move away from Microsoft desktops!