Agencies delaying move to Microsoft Vista

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Many federal agencies are not planning to move to Microsoft’s newest operating system, Windows Vista, anytime soon.

Several agency chief information officers said they either see no business reason to move from Windows XP to the new operating system, or are budgeting and planning for the transition in 2009 or beyond.

The Transportation Department, for instance, issued an indefinite moratorium to its bureaus, telling them not to update to Vista, Office 2007 and Internet Explorer 7. The memo was first reported by Information Week March 2.

Other agencies are following DOT’s lead. The Interior Department has written a similar memo and will issue it soon, sources said. 

At other agencies, it isn’t even on the radar. Molly O’Neill, Environmental Protection Agency CIO, said she hasn’t thought much about moving to Vista, while Defense Department CIO John Grimes said the move will happen as part of DOD’s regular refresh cycle. Grimes said he hasn’t spent too much time on Vista so far.

The General Services Administration also is not considering moving to the new operating system before 2008, an official said.

Scott Charbo, Homeland Security Department CIO, said he hopes to complete his agency's move to Vista by 2009, and is budgeting and doing other things to prepare for that move now.

Many of these decisions likely are driven by cost, the desire for agencywide coordination or how these new applications will help agencies meet their missions.

In its memo, DOT said there is no “compelling technical or business case for upgrading to these new Microsoft software products. Furthermore, there seem to be specific reasons not to upgrade.”

The reasons include:
  • The cost for performing the upgrade
  • Concerns regarding previous versions' compatibility with Office 2007 suite components, primarily Word
  • The protracted fiscal 2007 limitation on available funding
  • DOT’s move to a new headquarters building, which would compete with these upgrades for information technology expertise .
DOT will perform a further analysis and issue another memo in the next six months outlining the agency’s desktop and laptop computer migration strategy.

Bureaus also have to get permission from the CIO’s office to even test the software, the memo said.

Microsoft officials were not immediately available for comment.

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