What Happened to Enterprise Demand?

By Joe Wilcox  |  Posted 2008-08-14 Print this article Print


Negative perceptions

Microsoft released Windows XP about 18 months after Windows 2000, which dragged enterprise adoption of the newer operating system. By contrast, Vista shipped about six years after Windows XP.

Where is the pent-up demand? If demand for Vista is only about the same as demand for XP one year after their respective releases, then Vista adoption isn't doing well. And, for further context, PC volumes are much bigger this year than they were in 2003, a year after XP was released.

Microsoft has a big problem, then: Windows XP is successfully competing with Vista.

But there are other factors that account for the enterprise's cool reception of Vista.

As previously reported by eWEEK, application compatibility problems and Vista's hefty hardware requirements are among the operating system's major shortcomings. According to the May 2008 eWEEK survey, nearly three-quarters of IT managers said they would be somewhat less likely or much less likely to migrate to Windows Vista because of application compatibility problems; nearly as many showed similar resistance about hardware requirements.

Even given all that, the increase in negative Vista perception between the 2007 and 2008 eWEEK surveys is startling.

In both survey waves, 49 percent of IT managers said they were strongly against migrating to the operating system. Between waves, many other people in business organizations switched from answering neutral or slightly positive to being strongly against Vista deployments. In the second quarter of 2007, 54 percent of corporate managers said they were neutral about Vista migrations, and only 11 percent said they were strongly against them. In the second quarter of 2008, 51 percent of business managers said they were against Vista migrations-30 percent of them answering strongly against.

In an April report, Forrester analyst Benjamin Gray identified negative Vista problems as a major deterrent to enterprise adoption: "Desktop operations professionals tell Forrester that they see the value in standardizing on Windows Vista, but many are having a hard time convincing their CIOs that the move isn't a risky bet, given the mixed reaction it's received in the press and the speculation surrounding what to expect after Windows Vista."

In the eWEEK survey conducted in 2007, 22 percent of respondents strongly opposed Vista migration. In the follow-up survey a year later, 55 percent were strongly against deploying Vista. User resistance jumped from 21 percent to 53 percent during that time period, according to the two eWEEK surveys.

And, at this point, it's not only older Windows versions that Vista is competing with-it's also competing with Windows versions of the future.

Many organizations have chosen to wait for Vista's successor, Windows 7, which could ship as early as the end of 2009.

"Forrester has spoken with dozens of companies that are internally debating the possibility of skipping Windows Vista entirely and going straight to the next release, known as Windows 7," Gray said.

Marketing blitz

Microsoft is treating negative perceptions as Vista's major problem to fix. The company is in the early stages of launching a major marketing initiative for Vista, at a cost of $300 million.

Microsoft hinted at what would come with the launch of the "Mojave Experiment" Web site. Mojave's "See for yourself. Decide for yourself." Tag line frames the theme of other Vista marketing material to come.

The Mojave Experiment starts with a simple hypothesis: If people could see Windows Vista firsthand, they would like it. The company filmed a focus group of people with negative attitudes toward Windows Vista. Participants were then shown a "new" Windows version, Mojave. But they were really seeing Windows Vista. Using carefully edited snippets, Microsoft shows their reactions of shock and wow.

The Mojave Experiment participants saw Vista in a controlled environment on machines set up by Microsoft and demoed for about 10 minutes. The unanswered question: What would these users' reactions be after 10 hours or 10 weeks of using Vista?

Joe Wilcox is the editor of Microsoft Watch. He can be reached at jwilcox@eweek.com.


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel