Windows Vista is expected to ship early next year, but companies shouldn't even think about deploying the new operating system until well into 2008, according to Gartner analyst Michael Silver.
Speaking to several hundred IT executives at the Gartner Symposium/ITExpo, Silver said companies need a good 12-to-18 months to plan, test and pilot Vista before they move to a full-blown rollout. He added that virtually every company will migrate to Vista eventually, simply because sooner or later they'll have to.
But he said that there also are attractive new features in Vista, including built-in antispyware protection and data encryption.
Silver said the decision on when to move to Vista depends on what operating system the company is using. Companies running Windows 2000 should start planning and budgeting immediately for a Vista rollout in 2008. Companies running XP should wait until it's time for a regular hardware refresh, and deploy Vista on the new hardware. If that means rolling out Vista in stages, as different hardware ages out, that's fine, Silver said.
He recommended rolling out Microsoft Office 2007 all at once, however, because of the training that will be required to acquaint users with the new applications. The new version of Office also is expected to ship next year, but Silver recommended companies not deploy Office until they deploy Vista.
Silver said Vista will have some exciting new features, including PDF creation, XML-based document formats and improved collaboration tools.