How to do a small business Vista rollout?
August 18, 2007 1:52 PM   Subscribe

Is there a good document to help with determining the proper timing, method, and/or budget for installing Vista at a small business?

We have about 15 users on a good day on our network. I realize that we will need to go to Vista eventually, but we can wait "until it's finished." I've been trying to find something that will give me guidance as to how to prepare for and implement the switch. In other words has someone already done the planning work for me? something like :

1) 6mos. out upgrade the hardware
2) 3 mos. out install Vista on non-critical machines ...
posted by birchhook to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
Microsoft's website often has documents to plan this.

But, personally... do you REALLY need Vista? Most businesses that I know of lease computers anyway and only keep 'em around for 3 years.
posted by k8t at 2:09 PM on August 18, 2007

Actually, it's becoming questionable whether you'll actually need to go to Vista, at least in the foreseeable future - the backlash from businesses has been pretty harsh; I wouldn't anticipate any important software or hardware that won't work on XP any time soon. Hardware-wise, I bet if you just make sure all your future computer purchases are Vista-compliant, when the time comes that you need it, you'll probably be able to just start rebuilding them and be good to go.
posted by Tomorrowful at 2:14 PM on August 18, 2007

Would you say more about the needs of your business such that you've concluded that you'll need to move to Vista eventually? I'm going to assume that you already know that many businesses are choosing to skip Vista (as many skipped Windows ME eight years ago) . You believe there's something about Vista that will eventually be important to your business. What is it?
posted by gum at 2:16 PM on August 18, 2007

I work for a large corporation and we are still on Windows 2000. It works fine. There is no rush to get on the new OS, unless you just have to have the new bells and whistles, but most business users do not. There are lots of reasons to wait it seems.
posted by caddis at 2:16 PM on August 18, 2007

I'm assuming it will be more and more difficult to stay with XP - as MS forces OEMs to drop XP

We have used Toshiba Tecra laptops for years, but recently we received 2 with Vista and no downgrade path. I was able to find some drivers on Toshiba's UK site that worked, but the whole process was a major pain. So our last 3 laptops have been Dell Latitudes with XP.

Believe me I want to stay with XP, I just don't know how realistic that will be come January.
posted by birchhook at 4:07 PM on August 18, 2007

- You'll want Vista Business Edition or Ultimate edition. Those are the only two that support connecting to a Windows domain. Ultimate Edition has a lot of bloatware for a corporate OS, in my opinion.

- You will need an activation server for more than 25 PCs.

- You'll want to update to Office 2007.

- New machines ordered between now and when you do the upgrade should have at least 2 GB of RAM and be Core Duo (or AMD equivalent) or better processors. And the best video card you can get for the budget is critical as well.

- Account for printer, fax, and existing hardware driver support in your implementation plan. New hardware will be okay, old hardware may not. For example, just expect to replace document scanners unless they are natively supported in Vista, or unless you're using 3rd party scanner software.

- Data and profile migration from XP to Vista is very seamless. There are several ways to migrate data through the upgrade process and it can even be scripted.

I can't recommend strongly enough that you prepare your users for the changes in the OS. The differences between XP and Vista - everything from tagging and searching for files through to the interface changes ("where is the 'my documents' folder?") will be really jarring to those users that don't accommodate change well - although you can flip Vista into a Windows 2000 clone interface if needed. But definitely include training time in your schedule.

As you get closer to your implementation, keep an eye on Sharepoint and the as-yet unreleased Server 2008 as well - because WSS is going to be integrated tightly into both Office and 2008 Server. That will also change how users interact with Vista and will need to be accounted for.

I implement systems for small business for a living. We're telling everyone to wait at least a year if they can. You show good sense in waiting. We're telling people to buy hardware before April if they want to buy it with XP and not Vista (note to Birchhook: The "end" has been postponed to April 2008 at least - MS has deferred to common sense).
Vista is very young and it's not at all ready for prime time. Hardware support is really weak and there are quite a few problems to be worked out of the OS itself. Despite this, and the strong dislike in the market, Microsoft is not going to give up on it. It's going to be the standard new desktop for small business - come what may - at some point within the next two years. People aren't going to implement it in larger corporate environments for quite a long while.
You have plenty of time to plan.
posted by disclaimer at 4:54 PM on August 18, 2007

I understand this may not be a viable option for you, but perhaps you could focus time and planning on migrating to Ubuntu Linux? It can accomplish anything Vista can, and without the headaches.
posted by JaySunSee at 5:17 PM on August 18, 2007

Thanks disclaimer for the info about April. I also hadn't thought of skipping Vista all together.

I just see Vista as a freight train coming that I need to be ready for, but I want to postpone as long as I can. Does anyone think that Dell or Lenovo will keep releasing XP drivers for new laptops beyond 2008? Toshiba certainly wasn't helpful at all with the downgrade. Perhaps customer issues will force them to figure it out too.
posted by birchhook at 7:44 PM on August 18, 2007

Does anyone think that Dell or Lenovo will keep releasing XP drivers for new laptops beyond 2008?

Yes, many big corps will be on XP until MS decides to stop supporting it. They hate change. Change is expensive. They have enough clout to avoid change. They primarily do business with Lenovo and Dell. Lenovo and Dell will meet their needs. I think you can bank on it.
posted by caddis at 8:54 PM on August 18, 2007

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