With XP expected to be no longer available on new machines from the summer, should you be considering an upgrade to Vista? We've got 10 reasons why you should stick with XP

Round 5: Performance

Windows Vista is a bloated pig of an operating system. In fact, compared to Windows XP with Service Pack 2 or 3, Vista requires roughly twice the hardware resources to deliver comparable performance. Even stripped to the bone, with every new UI enhancement turned off and every new background service disabled, Vista is a good 40 percent slower than XP at a variety of business productivity tasks.

The above is no generalisation. I've run the tests (repeatedly). I have the hard numbers. (You can see the full range of my results at exo.performance.network).

Upgrading a user from Windows XP to Vista, without upgrading their hardware, is tantamount to crippling their PC. Think of users with torches lining up outside your datacenter. It's not a pretty picture.

So just wait for the next hardware upgrade cycle and hit them with Vista then, right? Maybe. But consider this: for every CPU cycle wasted bringing Vista's bloated image on par with XP's, you could be providing your users with an actual performance increase across their core applications.

If there were some compelling reason to run Vista over XP – a quantum leap in usability or manageability – I could see why the investment might be worth it. But upgrading hardware just to maintain the status quo seems silly.

Decision: Would you rather throw new hardware cycles at offsetting Microsoft's code bloat and voracious appetite for CPU bandwidth, or at a tangible, measurable improvement in application throughput and user productivity? Enough said.

Round 6: Hardware compatibility

There's no question that hardware compatibility was initially a sore spot with Vista. This was particularly true for mobile users who had to suffer through a variety of functional and operational problems as they waited for updated device drivers. And some of us are still waiting: I, for one, have yet to find a feature-complete video driver for my Dell XPS M1710, and I consider myself to be a fairly resourceful fellow.

But beyond scarcity, there is the issue of revalidation. Most sane IT shops have implemented strict rules regarding what is and is not an accepted hardware configuration. Departments with names like 'PC Engineering' spend copious time testing and certifying specific component combinations, isolating problem configurations, and feeding the necessary troubleshooting guidelines to their help desks. A migration to Vista means repeating these steps, and then some, while the immaturity of the Vista driver base will have IT racing against a moving target.

Windows XP, by contrast, has a mature and well-vetted compatibility base, with broad support from virtually every manufacturer. And while Vista will almost certainly catch up in time, as things stand right now, every new device insertion is a bit of a gamble. Just the other day I was puzzled when my Vista-equipped laptop wouldn't recognise a generic HP LaserJet 1200 printer.

Decision: When's the last time you worried about driver support under Windows XP? With an installed base into the hundreds of millions, chances are you'll still be finding XP drivers long after Vista's grandchildren are being put out to pasture.

NEXT PAGE: When it comes to Microsoft software compatibility, does Vista beat XP?