Since Windows Vista launched I have been assisting a local print shop in my parish deploy Microsoft’s new operating system and productivity suite. But I’m left with a headache and a disappointed Small Business owner who is now packing his bags and moving back to Windows XP. A lot of the local OEM’s are very hesitant about deploying Vista on newly purchased system’s and they have good reason to be, its just not ready for prime-time. Windows I believe has become a joint effort with each release between Microsoft and the software industry. A new release won’t be considered ready until everybody is ready, and I mean everybody. However if you work in a small business where you use Microsoft technology from top to bottom you will have a better chance of having a smooth migration from Windows XP.
In my case its a different story and that’s just the case of many Small Businesses out there, for instance, our software tools which are used to "run" the business are just not ready. Sage Software, makers of Peach Tree Accounting 2006 Premium said on their website, it works, but for it to "fully" work you need a patch, but this sounds contradictory when I read further on that Peach Tree version 2007 was last tested with Vista in June 2006 and is not guaranteed to work. So how am I suppose to put faith in a patch for 2006 which I need to call the Company to receive? The problem revolves around printing invoices and e-mailing them, it seems the E-mail Print Driver used by the software is trying to run in Kernel Mode in Vista which is interacting at the hardware level and is only designed to work with XP and earlier versions. Because of the deep changes in security Microsoft has added to Vista, certain applications from third party developers need to be re-written so they can operate better under the new user privileges required by the operating system. But for such a popular software package I expected better, and for a Company such as Microsoft, I expected them to have better communication with the folks who write such critical programs used by thousands of businesses.
No word from Sage if they will provide a future patch or Service Release that will fix compatibility with Vista in their existing releases, the Company has also said on their website that their 2007 version was last tested in June of 2006 with Vista and is not guaranteed to work. After browsing the web for help, I stumbled on a forum post which said that Sage won’t be supporting Vista until their 2008 version, Grr!
As for Office 2007, its taking more than 15 minutes to get accustomed to the new user interface. You spend more time searching for features than actually getting the work done, I agree with Long Zheng (istartedsomething.com) 100% that the Office Team was too over confident with the UI and could have taken a graceful approach by implementing a Search box Scout for finding features and commands or include the Classic 1500 toolbar commands as an option for users who are just not ready for Office Fluent. Its getting annoying hearing somebody call your name every 10 seconds about how to find a feature, whether its change case, page borders or spell check. In the print shop, there is a machine dedicated for only printing content, installed are applications for a number of programs so when employee’s receive files from clients or want to print their work, they just do that at that PC. But its not a print machine when 90% of the applications won’t work. So, we can forget about Vista there, Adobe Writer 5, QuickBooks 2006, Quark 5, PageMaker 7, Corel Draw, Print Shop, Hall Mark Card Studio, WinPC Sign – some of which don’t work!
Windows Vista’s built in compatibility tools are not doing a good job of communicating to the user when new updates are available for the latest incompatible software installed on your computer. After receiving this error and blogging the issue, I was notified by Kris Kenney of Canucky.net that there was an update from Sonic available for this issue. You can download it here
We realize we need to upgrade to new versions, but when you look at the big picture, all of these programs worked just fine on XP, so it would then become a case of upgrading for upgrade sake. Heck no! Vista’s AERO UI is a great sell, but the trade off’s are too many to justify right now, and even if new systems were purchased with it, it would be recommended that we format that system and install XP for that machine to be a good citizen in the work group.
This product is pathetically incompatible with Windows Vista, for an industry standard, I’m in awe, for a Company like Microsoft to pass this one buy, tsk, tsk.
Intuits QuickBooks Enterprise 6.0 is the same issue, but I suspect the Company is just forcing users to upgrade to the latest. But it’s starting to seem like a conspiracy here, money does not grow on tree’s the last time I checked.
The plan going forward is to take it step by step, which means, deploying Office 2007 on XP first. Regardless its a radical change in workflow requiring adjustment to the Office Fluent UI, users are excited about it and are willing to learn. Office 2007’s core app’s are a major leap in features, enhancing content is much easier and more attractive because of the new tools. From the professional looking charts to the elegant cover pages. For a veteran who is knee deep in the productivity suite, benefits are obvious, accomplishing task are much quicker, for example inserting and editing a picture is much faster. Compared to Word 2003’s Insert > Picture > From File > browse Pictures folder, select picture > Open, Office Word 2007 does it quicker, "Insert" tab > click Picture > browse select picture open. It’s small improvements like that which show the value of the new suite and the Office fluent including the incentive to put effort into learning it.
But going back to the main issue, application compatibility is a problem that needs to be ironed out first. We tried Virtual PC as a possible interim solution, but with only a GB of RAM running XP plus the accounting software and Office 2003 is decreasing the performance of the system since a substantial amount has been allocated to the Virtual Machine for it to run acceptably. What’s happening with Vista is a case of too much concentration on getting things to work than getting work done and making employee’s do what they want to do on the PC. I’m confident this will work out over time, but right now is just not the time for Vista. Regardless of the published compatibility list, its the misses on that list that are the major concern, the tools are currently in the trenches working everyday on Windows XP and 2000 systems that just cannot seem to find a place in Vista land.