Executive Summary:
The Windows Vista operating system (OS) has shortcomings that prevent it from meeting a business ROI. Some of Vista's problems include the increased cost over Windows XP and slow performance even with the latest service pack. Features such as Sleep, Ctrl+Alt+Del, and network drive mapping are unreliable or confusing to use. Synchronization problems could require mobile device upgrades, and Vista doesn't correctly save network connections.

Windows Vista sales numbers are good because Vista comes on nearly all new PC's—which means that these sales numbers are mainly from consumer systems. By now, it's clear that businesses are in no rush to roll out Vista. In fact, the vast majority have eschewed Vista in favor of sticking with Windows XP. Don't get me wrong—I've used Vista since before its official release, and I still use it today. But I was hoping for something better. Here are some of the marks against Windows Vista as a business OS.

10. Cost—Vista just plain costs more than XP. It requires more powerful hardware than XP, usually requiring upgrades to install, but that's just the beginning. Many applications also need to be replaced with Vista-compatible versions, a cost that can really add up in the enterprise.

9. Speed—It's only fair to expect that every Microsoft OS is bigger and slower than the previous version because the company adds more "customer requested features" to spur sales. However, Vista runs slow on all but the fastest systems. It's not so much each individual item but the sum of all the parts that makes Vista appear bloated and sluggish. And in spite of the hype, SP1 didn't rectify this situation.

8. UAC—Theoretically, User Account Control (UAC) is a good idea, but in all the time I've run Vista, I've never benefited from it—not even once. That's more than two years of daily use. However, UAC has hassled me for confirmation thousands of times. I like security, but the best thing I did for my productivity was to turn off UAC.

7. Ctrl+Alt+Del doesn't always work—Some program incompatibility is expected with a new release, which often means using Task Manager to end your unresponsive programs. However, with Vista, Task Manager no longer comes up reliably when you hit Ctrl+Alt+Del. Ironically, it fails most often when a program is hung.

6. The disappearing Map network drive function—XP's Map Network Drive option is always available on the Windows Explorer interface—exactly where you would use it. With Vista, this option appears only in the Windows Explorer view of Computer. When you drill down into the drives or subdirectories, the option disappears. Disappearing options confuse and frustrate both users and support personnel.

5. Mobile device compatibility—The move to Vista could forcibly retire many of your mobile devices—and replacing your mobiles devices won't be cheap. My iPAQ 3815 that worked fine with XP and ActiveSync won't work with Vista's Sync Center.

4. Sleep—Improving XP's sleep function was a great idea, but it isn't really an improvement if it doesn't work right. Vista's new hybrid sleep is unreliable. I've seen many systems become unresponsive when coming out of sleep mode, and you're often greeted with the new black screen of death or the system hangs on the login screen.

3. Windows Explorer settings—Like a buried tick, Windows Explorer's refusal to remember your folder settings is one of those little annoyances that grows on you over time. It works about 99 percent of the time, but every now and then Windows Explorer loses the settings for a given folder.

2. Wireless manager—One of Vista's biggest problems is its support for connecting to Wi-Fi networks using the Connect to a network dialog box. Even with the latest service pack, Vista often refuses to automatically connect to saved configurations. Finding your secured Wi-Fi network often requires you to repeatedly click the refresh button—it displays a different set of networks on every click.

1. ROI—Perhaps the biggest mark against Vista in the business world is that there isn't any real ROI. Vista makes some tasks easier, but it makes other tasks more difficult. I switched back and forth between Vista and XP for more than a year and saw no real advantage to using Vista and felt no real loss when I used XP. Combine that situation with the added costs of running Vista, and it's no surprise that businesses have stayed away in droves.