Best Practice Ezine #103 – Anyone for Vista?
My aim is to discuss top level strategies for a possible desktop upgrade. I want to help you decide whether, or not, to migrate from XP to Microsoft Vista, Linux or even internet browsers.
In computing, nothing stays the same for long. Change can be exciting, or it can be bewildering. This week I would like to begin by asking, ‘Is an upgrade from XP to Microsoft Vista the right direction for you to take?’ Next week I will have a look at detailed tactics for those who are considering an upgrade to Vista.
Another of my questions is this, ‘Will the thought of Vista act as a catalyst to experiment with another desktop operating system?’ It has probably flashed though your mind already that there are alternatives, such as Linux.
My greatest joy would be to persuade you to take the time to ponder about what is best for you. The main reason I put forward my own views is merely so that you can see where I am coming from. I am sure that Linux SUSE (Software-und System-Entwicklung) is a very good system, I am confident that I could configure SUSE to get what I wanted from a desktop. However, the reason I am not going down the Linux route is that my skill set is with Microsoft operating systems, consequently, I don’t want to dilute, or confuse, my present state of knowledge.
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In many ways, the desktop operating sytem is not an end in itself, but merely a vehicle to run applications such as Word, Excel, PaintShop Pro and FrontPage. Now my vision for the future is to run these applications in a browser. I can see many benefits from storing both the executables and the data on an internet server, not least that I would only need a basic operating system locally. An example of such an internet system is Google’s Spreadsheets. Unfortunately, this internet technology is not mature enough for me to abandon my desktop applications just yet.
One pleasant side effect of reviewing options is that free thinking often create new ideas. Reviewing Vista prompted me to reconsider Terminal Server solutions for 2007, as a stepping stone to running everything from the internet by 2010. Naturally Vista would be a prominent candidate as a Terminal Server client.
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If you are contemplating installing Vista, what can we learn from history regarding the timing for such an upgrade? Doing nothing can be a winning short-term strategy. For example, few people made every upgrade in the series, Windows 95, Windows 98, Millennium, Windows 2000 and XP. In retrospect it was correct to sit out at least two of those upgrades.
On the other hand doing nothing for too long can be ridiculous, for example big companies still running Windows 98 in 2006. They should upgrade if only to reduce huge support costs of running such an old operating system. Indeed taken to extreme, some companies spend so much money on supporting obsolete old systems that there is no money left for upgrades.
Upgrades rarely involve just one factor. Even if you believe that Vista will offer security and productivity benefits, you may resist an upgrade if you bought new machines only last year. As an alternative scenario, let us assume you have the budget to replace 5 year old machines with 64-Bit machines containing 2 GB of RAM; in this case, the upgrade from XP to Vista will complete a balanced, future-proof system.
Each new Microsoft desktop system had its detractors at the time of release. I can remember that when WfW was released many experts claimed that Dos was still better and faster than Windows. In the case of Windows 95 People said it was all hype, even with XP the cry was initially, ‘It’s too expensive to upgrade. For each new desktop, it turned out that critics were as foolish as King Canute when he tried to prevent the next tide coming in.
Management decisions in general, and upgrades in particular, are as much emotional as logical. Despite ‘facts’ presented by hard-nosed managers, the decision to upgrade was probably emotional, followed by highly selected ‘facts’ to justify the logic of their decision.
Even allowing for both ‘Luddite’ resistance to new technology and Microsoft bashing, I have never known such hostility towards a new Microsoft system as that currently experienced by Vista. That said, it is my prediction that the critics will gradually melt away. Once you have experienced Vista’s new Aero Graphics then XP’s Luna desktop will seems primitive. Once you see that Vista, while not perfect, is more secure than XP then you will be lured to upgrade. Finally there is the ‘keeping up with Joneses’ factor. More than any previous generation, people want the latest mobile phone or car; live now pay later is their mantra. And so it is with computing, Vista will become the new toy boys simply must have. One reason that public opinion is important is that if you buy into Vista you want it to be successful so that Microsoft will continue to develop the product and produce service packs.
Nevertheless it would be foolish to disregard all the criticism of the proposed Vista upgrade. My instinct tells me that the time is nearly, but not quite, ripe for an operating system revolution. I would like to be brave and dispense with the fat desktop client and instead just run applications across the internet from a browser. The problem is that the present systems are insecure, too slow and the connections in my area are not reliable, consequently a local operating system is my best option.
Only die hard supporters watch pre-season football training. So it is with beta software, only the dedicated bother to grapple with the quirky beta ways. Vista is now moving from pre-season training (Beta 1 and Beta 2) to pre-season matches with RC (Release Candidate 1). The Vista season proper starts in about October where it will be installed on new machines and in November it will be given to those with season tickets (Volume Licensing). Watch out for the Vista SuperBowl where everyone can get a view, this launch to the masses is likely to coincide with the NFL SuperBowl in February 2007.
My own conclusion is that when Vista arrives, doing nothing is not the best option. By 2007 XP will have paid its way with 6 years of service. Therefore, this is the classic time to review all options, for example to switch to Linux SUSE or possibly, Google’s style internet applications. Let us also at least consider Microsoft Vista, by 2007 XP will seem passé. I don’t subscribe to keeping up with the Joneses, famously, I am the only one in my neighbourhood with a push mower the others laugh at me from their 50hp motor mowers, but I don’t care. So computer-wise I shall keep my 7-year-old Iiyama monitor and my faithfully keyboard, but will upgrade to a 64-bit desktop with 4 GB Ram and Vista operating system. It takes time to embrace change, my feeling is that with Vista, one last Microsoft desktop is my best option. Thereafter I will look for an Internet Browser solution.
What will be your reaction to Vista? You have about 6 months for your ideas to gestate before the birth of Vista. At which point you will not want to caught up in the hype and rushed into an upgrade decision, therefore, take the time now to research the options for your desktop system of the future.
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Will and Guy Humour
This week Will and Guy have a true story about a forceful character taking a group for a meal. I bet that you know someone like the central personality, check out Dave and the 6 Buna Curries.
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