So in today's mailbag comes a question from Nick asking: "Love the SBS Show especially one thing questions and I have one for you: What should we do to prepare for the Windows Vista?"; Just among the many folks in the one thing fan base so let me look at this from as many angles as possible: Find or become Microsoft Small Business Specialist Microsoft Registered Partner Program is running towards extinction, rightfully so, and all the money is going into the SBSC program. If it were not for Microsofts insecurity about their monopoly (god forbid someone find out there are folks other than Microsoft writing software) the Action Pack would go off the cliff as well but the risk of having Action Pack on eBay and massive licensing fraud actively practiced by many small business consultants is a small price to pay for locking them into the Microsoft platform for decades. Those are the just the ugly realities of the marketplace, you can't expect everyone to behave ethically and MAPS does benefit a fair amount of partners that are just starting their businesses. In my humble opinion, that will be the only perk left for the uncertified partners. Now sit back, relax and even if you're a consultant consider who you would trust with your systems and your network. One-man-band or a Microsoft Certified Partner / Microsoft Small Business Specialist? That ought to be a really simple question to answer. Microsoft is thinking the same way. Microsoft is finding competent consultants and businesses that understand their platform and can support it. They are also Microsoft's sales force, and Microsoft is putting the money into the pockets of Small Business Specialists. For example, this month will be the last PEP (Partner Engagement Program) extended to people NOT in the Microsoft Small Business Specialist program. What does this mean? Better network deployments for the small business clients. Actually competent, certified and backed by Microsoft. It will also be cheaper. Yes, cheaper. Microsoft is throwing many incentives down the Small Business Specialist chain, for example you will almost be totally compensated for costs involved in consulting/deployment if you buy Windows XP / Office 2003. So if there is one, I repeat, one thing you should to on your road to Vista its to get a Microsoft Small Business Specialist certification or at least partner with someone who is. The second, third and fourth… In no real order there are more than a few non-business technical things you should pay attention to. Remember that you're looking at something that will not be available for another year (which probably means you will not be deploying it until at least next Spring/Summer). We still do not even know which features Vista will offer so its a little too presumptious to assume you'll even want to move up immediately (if even in the mid to long term). There are several features (such as Limited User Access) that might be very appealing but I'd argue its more a factor of the poorly written application than an OS. Either way, if you're sure you'll be upgrading your existing infrastructure right away Start purchasing AMD 64 X2 series workstations. Dual core is quite affordable and offers a lot more performance than single core processors. Look for things that have hardware DEP (or if you're going with Intel Execute Disable Bit switch) so you don't have to relive the recent WMF scare. Spend the extra money on the upgraded video card. Yes, really. Vista is very graphics intensive and there is a lot of talk about Microsoft DRM requiring hardware co-operation. Keeping that in mind you might want to get a video card that is actually supported by the designer (ATI, Nvidia) and not the El Cheapo of East Taiwan. Of course there is the going concern of turning your workforce into a big deathmatch party every Friday but those things do boost morale. Finally, the more things change the more they stay the same. Get more ram. Lot more ram. There are so many memory intensive things coming out already before Vista (like Microsoft Bloat-namics CRM which recommends over 1GB of ram just for the client piece) so spend the extra money on memory. Vista will (hopefully) include a feature that allows you to apply a security patch and reboot w/out losing your work state. Imagine a process by which a security patch is installed without you having to exit Excel or stop that long email to me 🙂 There is a lot of evidence that Microsoft will make Vista easy to move up the feature chain. Media will include all the bits for everything from Home up to Enterprise, so if you ever need a feature that requires a higher-up edition of Vista you can do so by just re-entering the product code. Keep that in mind when you're making a decision on whether or not to spend extra $15 on a memory upgrade – if you do minimum spec for a Home edition and then one day need it to work in a domain the last thing you'll want to learn is how to add more RAM or try to swap out a CPU 🙂
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