Windows XP slow to gain foothold

Corporate users are still putting off plans to migrate to Windows XP nearly one year after the desktop operating system was introduced.

Consumers may be buying into Windows XP on new PCs, but corporates are shrugging off the upgrade and focusing on the migration to Windows 2000.

Even last week's release of the first service pack of bug fixes for XP, which is typically a signal for broader corporate adoption of Windows operating systems, has been ignored in the enterprise space.

Department of Community & Health Services in Tasmania IT infrastructure manager Kevin Stark said he is still migrating to Windows 2000 and has no intention to move to XP.

He said Microsoft is upgrading at a "faster rate than we can absorb".

"We can't really afford to keep changing when there are no real benefits; once we get from NT to 2000 we will assess our situation then. Until we are on the Windows 2000 platform there is not enough standardisation to assess our next move."

At the Queensland Department of Primary Industry, however, IT services manager Ray Tryniw is assessing Windows XP.

"We are currently doing a cost-benefit analysis and we won't know our plans until then," he said.

Another IT manager, who chose to remain anonymous, said his company was moving to XP simply because it was part of a PC replacement cycle.

"There is no great functionality benefit but we have signed a licensing agreement and once you deal with the quirks of Microsoft, it's okay," he said.

A US Computerworld poll of 25 Windows users in a wide range of industries found only four companies that are currently rolling out XP across their operations and four more that plan to start migrations in the coming months. Some users who are holding back on XP cited cost, the lack of a pressing business need and recent Windows 2000 rollouts as factors in their decisions.

"We have not moved to XP, and we have no plans to. As far as I am concerned, this is an upgrade that offers nothing to a business customer," said Pat Enright, CIO at Clark Retail Enterprises, a convenience store chain.

In particular, users that either have completed Windows 2000 projects or are now rolling it out said they see no reason to jump to Windows XP, which they view as an incremental release over Windows 2000.

Jim Cullinan, a lead product manager for Windows, said Microsoft is focusing on communicating the benefits of Windows XP to companies still running Windows NT, Windows 98 and Windows 95. Those benefits include improved stability and enhanced wireless and security management features, he said.

"Most enterprise customers still have held to the tradition of waiting until Service Pack 1 to even look at it," Cullinan said. "IT spending has dried up, and it looks a little bit tighter. But IT spending should be on the rise in the coming months. We feel really good about where Windows XP is."

An April poll of 225 CIOs by Morgan Stanley showed that 60 per cent of respondents had no plans to roll out Windows XP. That view has changed little since then, according to many of the IT pros interviewed by Computerworld last week.

More than half of the 25 companies surveyed last week said most of their end users still run Windows NT, Windows 98 or Windows 95. "We've been driven by what our vendors will support. So far, they all support Windows 98, so we stay with 98," said one CIO.

Do you plan to migrate to XP or have you made the decision to stick with Win 2K? e-mail BytebackatCW@idg.com.au

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