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In a recent article in InfoWorld, Microsoft's Ballmer suggests (threatens?) that "Enterprise XP holdouts will get hell from users". I disagree, for reasons I write about in an upcoming article.
The really salient point is on the second page, where Ballmer is asked specifically what features in Windows 7 would convince users who skipped Vista to upgrade.
The reply: "Ballmer did not get specific, mentioning more flexible security settings, faster performance and general ease of use. Nor did he say directly that Windows 7 was any more appealing than Vista. It is worth noting that adoption rates for Windows Vista in the enterprise remain low two years after its general release."
That's hardly a convincing argument.
More to the point, if I worked in an office with XP installed, and had Vista at home, I don't think I'd sweat it. First of all, I'd be focused on getting my work done rather than bells and whistles that I might not need. Unless I had skipped XP at some point, I'd be comfortable and familiar with it, which is the main attribute I would be looking for.
There might certainly be some adjustment in moving between home and office, but I'd get used to it more easily than dealing with annoying Vista issues, like my desktop disappearing if I didn't log in quickly enough and the preview screen going to screensaver - even though I disable the screensaver repeatedly.
Personally I would find such an office to be a welcome reprieve from Vista. Since I had once been "programmed" to use XP, it would come back easily, and the only feature I might miss would be Search, but that would well compensated for by being able to navigate to various files and folders seamlessly.
Unfortunately Ballmer's suggestion has an underlying reality -- once you're running Microsoft on the Enterprise getting off the bus is very hard and the alternatives (Mac and Linux) have their own issues.
But if IT pros are like me, they're really tired of the massive adjustments required in each OS "upgrade". Ballmer is promising compatibility and driver functionality this time around -- I have my doubts -- but for everyone's sake I hope they provide a solid, reliable product rather than one with window dressing (pun intended) that just necessitates a lot of adjustment by the end user and IT.
Certainly Ballmer can make the argument that security was a premium feature at the expense of usability (UAC) -- but security still requires frequent patches and updates and is horribly intrusive. Hopefully this will be addressed effectively in Windows 7 as well.
But as Mr. T might have said -- "I pity the early adopter."
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