Well over a month ago Microsoft's Vista finally made it to the store shelves. It has been a long time coming, with an unusual amount of beta releases that have been available to both manufacturers and interested end users. The final product does indeed impress in terms of presentation, look and feel and the attention to detail when it comes to security. It however falls well short of those who expected an easy upgrade path, especially considering the hefty price tag associated with the Premium and Ultimate versions. Many ill-fated customers who upgraded have yet to get their PCs back to perfect working order, or even have trouble upgrading to Vista to begin with.
So should we collectively be pointing the finger at Microsoft? Well no, for once we cannot write some of Vista's shortcomings off as a bad management decision in Redmond. This time around the respective hardware manufactures have had years, that is right, years, to write drivers for their products. Judging by the lack of drivers for anything that is not recent or popular you would think they have been sitting on their laurels and done nothing. Quite frankly that is not far from the truth and something that must give Microsoft headaches as well. Just think of the implications of a full corporate rollout of Vista in an organization that has a wide variety of PCs with all sorts of peripherals, that were Windows XP certified, but now half these don’t work due to lack of drivers.
I am sure OEM's will jump at the change to supply a whole new set of PCs and peripherals to said organization, and Microsoft would be happy to supply this OEM with the required Vista OEM copies. Unfortunately most sysadmins were not born yesterday and would be shooting themselves in the foot if they went ahead with such an upgrade today, especially since most hardware is written off over the coarse of a few years, very few corporations just simply replace everything with new. So they would be setting themselves up for weeks and weeks of headache after headache trying to get every last bit of older hardware back up and running.
Still, many hardware manufacturers must think that everybody will just junk their old hardware and not update, but upgrade. Well, I think this time around we might see a great cleansing as the end user will pick to shop with the manufacturer that does have Vista drivers available today for future purchases. Microsoft on the other hand has a tough sell, as indicated by the less than predicted amount of Vista copies that have been sold to date.
But frankly, can you blame the educated end user. Who would want to buy a new operating system that does not have any real added features and risk the chance of turning a perfectly working albeit less snazzy Windows XP PC into an up-to-date, but less than functional Windows Vista PC? As mentioned before, lets see what the first service pack brings and whether further down the road other manufacturers will either sink or swim in terms of providing Vista drivers for their not-so-new-but-still-very-functional hardware.