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High expectations in enterprise not dampened by Vista delay

Windows managers, analysts weigh in on the new plans to delay the release of Vista.

As an IT professional, Ron Hospodarsky knows the importance of security when it comes to the enterprise.

Hospodarsky, a database analyst with Health Network Laboratories in Allentown, Penn., said securing an operating system impacts the health of just about all sensitive data. "Business data, customer privacy data, medical information and, of course, machines that run machines that run our country," he said.

Like others in his field, Hospodarsky is not upset about a recent announcement from Microsoft about plans to delay the release of Vista, the company's next-generation desktop operating system. "In my opinion, security is of utmost importance and if it should cause a delay, then delay the product and deliver a more secure product," he said in an e-mail.

Microsoft reported last week that some versions of Vista will not ship until January. The delay was attributed in part to the company wanting to do some additional security testing. Microsoft said Office 2007, the next generation of the company's productivity suite, would be delayed too.

Neither delay significantly impacts large business customers. Enterprise customers that have a volume licensing deal with Microsoft will be able to download Vista in November. But the move could certainly change impressions among users who have been waiting eagerly for the OS, mainly for its security features.

In a poll conducted by, more than half of those who weighed in, 55%, said they expect Vista to offer huge advances in desktop security.

Similar research conducted by Current Analysis Inc., in Sterling, Va., looked at perceptions among IT security managers about the impending release. The research firm surveyed 306 enterprise security managers in the United States and found an equally high level of optimism, with 90% expecting automatic patch updates and installation management functionality to be part of Vista.

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When the study was released, researcher David Baltaxe said that despite high expectations among Windows managers, Vista still faced a high hurdle. "There are very significant concerns from the enterprise market as to the credibility of Microsoft in terms of their ability to deliver," Baltaxe said at the time.

In response to the delayed release announcement, Baltaxe said he thought it would not diminish optimism among enterprises, but he does think it may force some businesses to make alternative arrangements.

"Where security strategies are dependent upon the timing of investment and deployment, enterprises may be forced to turn to other vendors to meet schedules and budgetary requirements," Baltaxe said.

Baltaxe, and co-researcher Andrew Braunberg, said the delay also gives security vendors more time to launch their competitive response to Vista. Braunberg attended BrainShare 2006, a conference hosted by Novell Inc. this month, and said he noticed Novell's efforts to draw attention to Microsoft's inability to deliver. Novell was heavily pushing its SUSE Linux desktop operating system at the event, Braunberg said.

Other analysts said Microsoft was wise to take the time to refine the OS.

"A lot is riding on them," said Scott Crawford, a security analyst at Enterprise Management Associates, a Boulder, Colo., consulting firm. "If anything, the expectations are higher than the reality in this product, so this delay is probably a good thing."

For other users, Vista is still not a near-term plan. The delay meant little.

"We still have application compatibility issues with XP Pro with some of our vendors," said Chris Roblin, a business resumption analyst with Ohio National Financial Services in Cincinnati. "We will not be looking to Vista any time soon."

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