Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Windows Vista - big changes on the horizon - financial impacts

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I recently read a series of articles from Microsoft regarding Windows Vista. Feel free to check them out.

Eventually most Windows users will have to upgrade to Vista. With several different flavors available, the decision will not be a quick or simple one. Vista has a different user experience than XP - you will need to take time to learn how to use it.

Also, most importantly from a financial perspective, Vista will:

a. critical utility software - Vista duplicates some of your key utilities such as backup, spyware, speech recognition, fax, e-mail, calendar, firewall and anti-virus -- you'll have to decide whether to use the windows built in version, upgrade a third party product or if possible, keep what you have
b. hardware upgrades - you'll probably want more memory, a better video card - usually one supporting accelerated 3d graphics, and possibly more sophisticated hard drives - maybe even an extra thumb drive.
c. the install process - installing Vista on to existing computers will take time, money and backup.

It's quite interesting. It's essentially an upgrade to Windows providing enhanced usability, presentation, security and better integrated core applications. In many ways, Vista seems to move Windows closer to the Mac OS. In addition it claims to have improved stability and performance - real world use will have to prove this.

It also integrates (some versions) Windows Media Center.

The bottom line is if you upgrade to Vista, and eventually you will upgrade in order to retain on-line security protection, be compatible with other software upgrades, be able to receive updates, enjoy the usability benefits, you'll have a bit of a time changing the way you've used your PC and may have to reconfigure your software utility infrastructure. This will all take time.

The average hardware upgrades might run as follows:

  • 3d Video card $60 - $550, sweet spot around $280 + installation expenses if you can't do it of around $30-$80.
  • Memory upgrades - $70 - $100 per gigabyte depending upon your exact system configuration. Cost of installation $20 - $50.
  • PC Microphone - for voice recognition $8 - $30. You should be able to install it without help.
  • 1 GB thumbdrive - $50 - $70. You can install it yourself.
  • New hard drives - this remains to be seen. We're really waiting on the hybrid drives. They may be too expensive for the casual user when initially introduced.

Other personal financial impacts:

From what I've read, Vista sounds positive - it will drive up MS stock. Since the product is designed to be networked and has exciting network related features, expect households and businesses to buy multiple copies.
Some software utility vendors will take hard hits - backup software, calendar and e-mail, spyware, photo / video editing products (consumer oriented) as well as media management products - think adobe photoshop elements.
Some hardware vendors will see increased demand - 3d card manufacturers, memory manufacturers.

I'm excited about the product release. I'm anxious that it will take 2 days of careful study to install, configure and leverage many of the new Vista features. Power use will take 2-4 weeks.

Have a great Wednesday,
Making Our Way

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