Monday, January 1, 2007

When should you upgrade to Outlook 2007 and Vista?


By David Gewirtz

It's that time. We knew the questions were going to start coming and Akoni Kalani Mikala wasn't about to disappoint us. He asks:

With Vista and Office 2007 coming out soon, should I upgrade right away?

We've been through quite a few upgrade cycles and have a lot of experience here. This question actually has quite a few components to it:

  • Do you have a brand new computer or an older box?
  • Are you an enterprise IT person or a home user?
  • Are you experiencing system difficulty now and expecting to do a Windows reinstall soon?
  • Are you a developer?
  • Are there specific features you need now?
  • Do you use specific addons that are critucal to your productivity?
  • Do you have the skills to troubleshoot problems on your own?
  • Are you currently using Business Contact Manager?

Both Office 2007 and Vista will be available for you to buy on January 30th. What should you do? Read on to find out.

Avoid upgrading right away

Let's first discuss David's Number One Rule of Thumb for system upgrades. Quite simply, I prefer to wait six months to a year before upgrading machines. While both IE7 and Firefox 2.0 have been out for a while, all the systems we manage still use IE6 and Firefox 1.5.

I always advise, if possible, that you avoid upgrading right away. In my case, for example, I use and rely on a pile of plugins to Firefox. While Firefox 2.0 is interesting, it breaks many of my plugins. And while IE7 offers better security, some mission-critical financial applications we use don't work reliably with IE7.

Switching to a new system always involves interdepency compatibility issues as well as the inevitable early bugs. If at all possible, we recommend you wait between six months and a year to give the new products a shakedown period. Generally speaking, it'll keep you sane and reduce your support hassles.

That said, let's look at some of the specific issues I mentioned before.

Do you have a brand new computer or an older box?

A big key in upgrading to Vista is whether you have a new, powerful box with a fine video card or an older machine. While Vista does scale its services to match the hardware, there's no doubt you'll need a very beefy machine to truly derive any benefit from the upgrade.

If your machine is older, don't even consider upgrading. If it's new, upgrading is certainly an option.

Are you an enterprise IT person or a home user?

If you're an enterprise user or an enterprise IT person, you're going to have to do a lot of research, analysis, and planning before you upgrade. The new systems have new licensing requirements and you'll have to check all your systems to see if they can handle the new software.