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VARs are still reluctant to upgrade either themselves or their clients to Vista despite Microsoft’s recent deluge of service packs, release candidates and the early release of Office 2007 Service Pack 1.

Since Dec. 5, Microsoft has released Windows Server 2008 RC1, Windows XP SP3 RC1, Windows Vista SP1, and Dec. 11 the Redmond, Wash.-based vendor said it had ended beta testing of Office 2007 SP1 and has released that update.

David Tan, CTO of CHIPS Computer Consulting, said while his company welcomed the release, it wouldn’t mean much to his clients. “We were happy to see SP1 get rolled out early, but it’s mostly fixes and patches as opposed to feature updates, so most of our clients won’t get too excited about it,” Tan said.

An Oregon-based solution provider and Microsoft Gold Partner who wished to remain anonymous said no matter how many service packs or fixes Microsoft releases, it wasn’t changing his customers’ minds.

“We have about 300 active clients and we haven’t deployed Vista in any of those environments,” the solution provider said. While engineers at the company do run Vista in a test environment, the VAR said that its own internal and outside benchmarking tests didn’t demonstrate enough performance improvement to warrant migration. “Even with the most recent patches, we don’t see anything changing anytime soon,” he said.

Tan said that Microsoft’s spotty reliability history could be playing a part in the skepticism VARs feel about Vista and SP1 adoption adoption. “There’s always that mentality among users that they need to wait for SP1 of any Microsoft product,” Tan said, adding that he personally thinks Vista is a solid operating system.

Marc Harrison, president of Manalapan, New Jersey-based Silicon East, said the release “removes the last excuse VARs had” for not upgrading. Most of his customers have already upgraded, he said, adding that “Vista is a surprisingly stable operating system and waiting for the service packs is just an excuse to hide behind.”

Tan and Harrison both cite compatibility as the major stumbling block VARs face on the road to Vista adoption, since it’s expensive and time consuming to overhaul and in some cases rewrite entire applications to ensure they will work well with Vista. “The even bigger issue continues to be application compatibility. There are still tons of line-of-business applications that are not ready for Vista, so migration isn’t even a possibility,” Tan said, especially for homegrown and custom applications, which many VARs and ISVs provide to their customers. “Most incompatibility occurs in very specific, niche industries,” Harrison said. “Thousands of small vendors don’t have timetables for when they’ll make their applications Vista-compatible,” he said.

Harrison said that slow Vista adoption has created a chicken-and-egg situation whereby major software and hardware vendors are waiting to update their products until Vista adoption is more widespread, but that Vista adoption will continue to be slow until software and hardware compatibility are resolved.

While the latest service packs may not push solution providers or their customers to migrate, the final release of Windows Server 2008, scheduled for February, might be the nudge customers and VARs need, Tan said, to finally make the move to Vista.

Pointer Click here to get VARs views on Vista one year after the OS was released.

Dan Schwab, vice president of marketing, D&H said: “Microsoft tells us that there’s a rolling adoption, much like what happened with the adoption of XP,” he said. Schwab said that VAR partners of the Harrisburg, Pa.-based distributor are slowly upgrading to Vista. “This is technology they’re going to be selling for the next couple years,” he said, and that most feel they need to gain an understanding of the OS to get ahead of the curve when customers do begin migrating.