How to avoid Windows Vista in business.

I’m a Unix sysadmin. I got a new work laptop today, still on XP. I asked the IT guys if we were in any danger of Vista. They said “Nope, XP is supported for years yet!” And we all exhaled.

We have worked out that if we are ever threatened with Vista, we promptly (a) pump up the Gutmann (b) write a whole pile of in-house apps for ourselves that only work on XP. The latter already worked wonderfully for us in making an instant business case for staying on Firefox — make sure your in-house web apps are written for Firefox and SeaMonkey, and specifically break in IE. (This is easy: just write to standards. We have one vital app for twenty people that was broken for six months in IE with no-one realising …)

So: to stay off Vista, stock up on in-house apps that don’t work on it. Then you have the business case you need.

4 thoughts on “How to avoid Windows Vista in business.”

  1. Dear David,

    First, thanks for posting a comment on my blog. I ended up following your link from there to here and I was reading some interesting stuff. This last post strikes me as quite interesting.

    I have a background of Unix but I’m the IT Manager of an all-Windows company and although we are still using Windows XP on all workstations, people are giving up to marketing and looks and they’re constantly asking my about Vista. Avoiding it is interesting but what would be your main reasons for avoiding it in favour of XP? I mean, I don’t think XP is that better…

  2. Of course, the answer to “which operating system should I use?” is always “what’s it for?” XP with Office is a known quantity that can in fact be managed relatively cheaply. Vista is a resource hog with severe practical usability issues. Linux offers the possibility of much cheaper management, but there aren’t ridiculous quantities of cheap support drones who are familiar with it as yet.

    XP is not great, if I had my way I’d have a laptop with Ubuntu. But I don’t have my way. We run XP for (a) Outlook 2003 (b) Office 2003 (c) a number of in-house Windows apps that I’m pretty sure run properly on Wine anyway (and we have other actually business-critical stuff that we run on Wine). XPsp2 is a usably-stable version of Windows that runs OK in 512MB-1GB of memory and I can get most of the open-source software I actually use for it.

    Vista is a resource hog with severe usability issues, for all its shiny exterior (and it really is very pretty). I was particularly put off by Calle Dybedahl‘s experiences with being given a Vista laptop for proper work. He gave it a serious go, and concluded after two months that it just wasn’t up to serious work as yet. I remember when trying it on a friend’s laptop (she was quite prepared to hate it but turns out to love it), I had to resort to the command line to access a CD of camera software that Vista decided it was in my best interest not to let me see. It’s quite possible that it wouldn’t hamper business use in practice, but you’d need proper testing and so forth, not to mention every machine having 3 gig of memory.

    We were enormously pleased with the success of writing our in-house web apps for Firefox ;-)

  3. Alas if you’re moving to web apps for most things why would you even need XP – locked down thin clients are a lot cheaper than lots of XP workstations everywhere – not to mention the power savings and lower admin costs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.