Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Is Vista Really Ready for Release?

I've installed Vista RC2 over the weekend. The installation was relatively painless, and pretty much everything seems to work. However, I still do not think it ready for release. I have four reasons for this view:

  • There is a lack of working anti-virus packages for Vista. Trend does have a package and One-Care (folks in the UK get a giggle saying this fast!) appears to be available, but where is the choice? The lack of a usable anti-virus package is a major concern to corporates. We use Network Associates Virusscan and would prefer to continue using it.
  • PowerShell does not install. Now this may seem a curious point - but we are being told that the reason PowerShell can't install is due to the new installer. The PowerShell installation, so far as I can see, does three things: copies a few files to \system32, adds a few reg keys, and runs ngen to install the PowerShell binaries into the GAC. Hardly rocket science - but if one of the smartest teams at Microsoft can not get this stuff to work, mere mortals have no hope.
  • Turnpike is not stable under Vista. Turnpike is a mail and news program heavily used in the UK. Produced by Demon, the UK's first major ISP and still one of the larger ones, Turnpike is a great package. But the reader part, which is implemented as a shell extension, GPFs all over the place. This is a package that works very well under Windows NT4, Windows 2000 and XP (RTM, sp1 and sp2), but is highly unstable under every Vista build issued to beta testers this year. I can't get it to stay up for more than a few minutes before a crash (which typically then requires a full rebuild of my mail/news databases to start working again). This is simply unacceptable and I am running XP SP2 on my laptop.
  • The Vofafone 3g data card drivers do not work. I rely on this card for connectivity and need to dual boot back to XP for support. For core connectivity like this, lack of support is a huge negative for corporates.

These are just four pointers - the lack of antivirus must be a huge negative for corporates. Why would any large company want to deploy an OS without a working AV program? The new installer is a support nightmare waiting to happen, as it means customers can not install Exchange 2007 tools on Vista. If programs like Turnpike are so unstable, what else is going to break? And finally, for a lot of corporate customers, tools like the Vodafone 3G data card are mission critical. All in all, these issues point to an OS that, however good, is not ready for corporate use.

MS has made great strides in improving Vista, and it is pretty close to being useable. I genuinely want to run it on my day to day machines. But I can't. At the end of the day, Vista is not ready - but seemingly Redmond have only one objective, which is to ship it. Ready or not MS appear to be willing to ship this puppy.

My advice to my corporate customers is to get to know Vista - go on the training and start experimenting once RTM occurs. Treat Vista RTM as the Beta 3 that MS should have declared and act accordingly (i.e. don't deploy big time). Wait instead for both the the consumer versions ship (e.g. what should be called an early SP1) and consider installing then.


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