Changing Rules

By Robert Hertzberg  |  Posted 2006-12-01 Print this article Print

Businesses that have been evaluating Microsoft's new operating system say it's more secure, but with a bit of complexity.

Changing Rules

A switch in Microsoft's volume licensing policy is also raising concerns. Typically, an enterprise pays Microsoft a blanket annual fee that lets the enterprise upgrade to a new Microsoft product—whether an OS or a new version of Office—whenever it wants.

At the end of the year, the customer and Microsoft do a "true-up"—determining how many pieces of software were actually added or subtracted. With Vista Enterprise Edition, Microsoft is asking customers to operate a key management service, basically an in-house server that will keep a running tally of the number of Vista operating systems in use. But there are several problems with this policy. One is that it will force Vista users to operate a separate server, a requirement that small organizations in particular may find "onerous," according to Edward Ray, who runs his own security consulting firm in Orange, Calif.

Another problem is the potential for miscounting, since an enterprise will often install an operating system as a temporary fix or in a development environment. "No one is satisfied that Microsoft has taken all those kinks out and that we can fully automate this process," says Wisconsin's Miszewski.

So, how fast will enterprises adopt Vista? A survey conducted by computer reseller CDW in October found that just one in five organizations plans to upgrade to Vista in the next year. "I've spoken to a few people. We're all like, 'You go first,'" says Michael Saitow, chief information officer of M.S. Walker, a Somerville, Mass.-based wine distributor with more than 250 employees.

But Microsoft operating-system technology has a certain inevitability to it. Over time, 90% of companies with more than 100 employees expect to be on Vista, CDW's survey showed. Companies will get there, says London-based consultant Ben Downe, who works with Global 1000 companies and has been evaluating Vista in recent weeks: "The question is when."


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