In all the recent coverage of the impending Windows Vista launch, we were most struck by a prediction by Kevin Kettler, the CTO at Dell, which obviously has a lot of skin in this Vista game.
Kettler told silicon.com that he expects Vista to catch hold in the enterprise, not because of the built-in security features that have garnered so much attention from the trade press, but because users will fall in love with it in their homes and demand that their employers make Vista their work platform, too.
Did we mention that Dell has a vested interest in Vista's fortunes?
Certainly, we are not oblivious to growing influence of consumer tech in the business. IM dug into the enterprise despite the best efforts of curmudgeonly CIOs; iPod lovers actually do have some excuse for bringing the things to work; and most industry experts agree that consumer adoption will go a long may toward making or breaking 3G services.
But will this influence reach all the way to the operating system?
Firstly, we are dubious that users will get all that excited about which version of Windows they are using, unless they get a perverse kick out of being scolded every time they try to make a system change. We've played around a bit with the Aero interface, and while it's pretty, it certainly did not change the way we feel about our Excel workbooks.
Kettler points to Vista's "sexy" entertainment features in the silicon.com interview. We're sure that'll make a convincing case with most IT shops; we can't cite an exact figure, but we're pretty confident that few enterprises made the jump to XP Media Center.
We're not discounting the impact users are having on IT spending decisions, but we do think that actually accelerating a new -- and in a large shop, quite costly -- OS upgrade may be stretching the model a bit.
First, many consumer-driven tech advances -- IM, VoIP, personal storage devices (we just refuse to give iPods too much cred) -- bring real productivity gains, which make IT more inclined to put up with the accompanying headaches.
Second, workers have been able to introduce this tech to the workplace at no cost to themselves, thereby forcing IT to crack down or reasonably accommodate. Hard for us to see users springing for a $200-and-up new copy of Vista and then whipping a company's system with a clean install -- just because they want a Rolex clock in the Widgets bar.