October 18, 2006, 1:26 PM — My Vista Budget Vacuum column got Slashdotted, so 500 plus message replies alternate between calling me an idiot and a genius. Unfortunately, the Slashdot headline made it sound like the cost estimates were for just Vista. My point is that Vista is the engine pulling a long train of other products and services some vice presidents will demand. Those are the ones that cost money.
I learned three interesting things. First, some techs spend too much time on Slashdot. Second, many of those techs don't read the articles they scream about. Finally, best practices vary enormously between companies and techs, which really surprised me.
Let me address some detractors. True, no one has to upgrade to Vista at all, but Microsoft's marketing machine carries enormous weight, especially with non-technical vice presidents. Yes, you can buy PCs that support Vista for less than $1,500, but not many, and if you really keep PCs for five years, do you want to buy the cheapest PC possible? And one poor guy who just bought new PCs because of Katrina said he spent $1,500 per non-Vista PC (but I hope he got powerful enough units to work with Vista). Several industry insiders told me 95 percent of PCs bought by corporations today, using last year's Intel specifications, won't fully exploit Vista because of the need for DirectX 10 video support.
When Vista gets rolling, the new PCs will include Vista software. That's something I should have addressed, but didn't. Most big companies are on some type of license agreement, so Office 2007 upgrades will be free or far less expensive than retail. True as well.
Many asked why I didn't include training and support costs, because they will be substantial. Those are soft costs hard to quantify in a short newsletter. Training will be needed, however, so get ready, and beef up your help desk.
Most companies have a PC upgrade cycle, so many told me they have a plan for Vista. My concern? Upgrade cycle plans get changed when senior staff keeps their old PCs and watch HR clerks get new Vista powerhouses. People with big offices love status symbols, and I, along with Microsoft, believe a new Vista system will become a status symbol.
My favorite definition of expert: the one who says the project will cost the most and take the longest. Believe those people every time.