Microsoft boasted tvishis week about the progress it’s made with Windows Vista drivers – 100 days after the operating system was released to consumers. Businesses, of course, have been able to get their hands on Vista since the end of last year, but few upgraded immediately.

Nearly six months on from the release of the business versions of Vista, many companies are still unsure whether the operating system, or their installed hardware and software, is ready.

To address these questions, we spoke with David Cottingham, a Vista specialist at technology and services provider CDW.

CDW recently conducted a survey of 761 IT decision-makers, asking if and when they plan to adopt Vista. More than 85 percent said they expect to adopt Vista, with 20 percent saying they aim to deploy it by the end of 2007.

Cottingham says Vista in many cases will require "a major forklift upgrade”. Therefore, he recommends that IT departments that aren't in the budgeting or testing phase start this process now.

"Vista, more than anything else, is about having a good plan," he says. Here are six questions to consider as you venture into Vista.

1. Are your vendors and application developers ready for Vista?

The first thing to check should be where third-party software vendors stand with Vista compatibility. While Microsoft offers compatibility information for mainstream applications, Cottingham says now is the time for IT to speak with security and custom applications vendors to ensure that they are going to support Vista in a timely fashion. "You want to find out if your partners are ready for this change," he says.

In fact, in the CDW survey, 26 percent of respondents said they were worried that there would not be compatibility for Vista with their current security and antivirus software vendors. Another 10 percent said they were concerned that they would need to make a bigger investment in new licensing.

Cottingham acknowledges that in some cases, you will need to budget for application development or licensing to get your mission-critical applications to be Vista-compatible.

2. What is the state of your laptops and desktops?

You'll want to consider the PC upgrades you'll need. "You want to future-proof yourself. Make sure that the incremental hardware purchases you're making now will work for widespread Vista adoption," Cottingham says.