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In most of the organizations that I have worked in or done consulting work for, the end users had quite a bit more influence over IT policies than they probably realize. Although there are exceptions to every rule, I have found that it is the end users who do the businesses “real work” and that the business sets its IT policies according to the businesses needs. What this basically means is that the end users have to have the necessary resources to do their jobs. Over the years I have witnessed plenty of situations in which end users were vocal in their disapproval of a particular hardware or software product and the IT department eventually caved to the pressure.
It is no secret that there are plenty of companies that are still using Windows XP and have chosen not to adopt Windows Vista for whatever reason. I have always worked under the assumption that this was primarily related to hardware and software compatibility issues or budget constraints. Tonight something happened though that makes me wonder how much end user influence might be playing into the revolt against Vista.
Normally when I need computer hardware I order it online. At the moment though, I am working on another book and have a fast approaching deadline for a couple of chapters. This evening I realized that I was going to need another computer in order to make some of the labs in the book work, and that I wasn’t going to have time to order a system off the Internet.
That being the case, I went shopping at an electronics store. I don’t want to name names, but I will tell you that this is a national chain, and you would know the name if I mentioned it.
At any rate, I picked out a system, and the sales person actually tried to sell me a downgrade to Windows XP (certain Windows Vista versions automatically qualify for a free downgrade license). I didn’t really want to get into a long conversation with the sales person, so I politely declined. He started telling me that I really needed Windows XP, because Windows Vista was far more prone to viruses than Windows XP is. I guess he has never heard of Data Execution Prevention or some of the other antimalware mechanisms in Vista. To make a long story short, the sales guy was relentless in pushing Windows XP. He told me all kinds of stories about Vista’s shortcomings, some of which were true, others of which were not.
The point is that I can’t help but wonder if this is the type of misinformation that consumers are normally bombarded with. If this type of thing does happen on a normal basis, how much of that misinformation eventually makes its way back into the workplace and ultimately influences the company’s IT policies?