Participating PC manufacturers are offering a free
upgrade from Windows XP to Vista with purchase of a PC between the end of
October 2006 and March 15, 2007. Microsoft’s Vista system availability to the
retail channel is later than expected and won’t hit the market until end of
January 2007.

“PC vendors are trying to sweeten pre-Christmas sales by offering a ‘rain
check’ for Vista,” said Nauman Haque, research analyst with Info-Tech Research
Group. “While that will likely boost sales with individual consumers and is
smart marketing, it doesn’t include Enterprise versions so businesses
shouldn’t jump at this opportunity.”

Haque explained that enterprises get free software upgrades as part of
their Software Assurance subscriptions and usually get a better deal as a
matter of course through volume licensing agreements. For businesses making
purchases without a volume licensing agreement, the price differential between
Windows XP and Vista is small; since XP would have to be purchased to get the
Vista promotion, most enterprises are better off waiting.

“Enterprises would be wise to weigh this offer against their existing
Microsoft licensing agreements, as well as consider the fact that Vista has
not yet proven itself in complex enterprise environments,” said Haque. “I’d
advise businesses purchasing software licenses to take a wait and see approach
to Vista, ensuring all the major bugs are worked out before making a
large-scale migration.”