Microsoft has issued the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor, a free downloadable program that determines whether a user's existing hardware is compatible with Windows 7. Through programs such as Upgrade Advisor, as well as a massive marketing campaign and price-cutting promotions, Microsoft is attempting to remove practical and psychological barriers toward the adoption of Windows 7, which Redmond needs to be a substantial hit in order to bolster its flagging revenues.
In order to further encourage adoption of Windows 7, Microsoft
offered a free downloadable program on Oct. 19 for testing existing computer
systems' compatibility with the new operating system.
The Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor, with a file size of 8.3MB,
can be downloaded here
Before running the program, users should plug in and turn on any USB
devices, printers, external hard disks, or scanners regularly used with the
system being tested.
"Download and run the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor to see if
your PC is ready for Windows 7," reads the Microsoft Web page associated with
the software. "It scans your hardware, devices, and installed programs for
known compatibility issues, gives you guidance on how to resolve potential
issues found, and recommends what to do before you upgrade."
The Upgrade Advisor represents another aspect of how
Microsoft, needing its new operating system to be a substantial hit, is leaving
nothing to chance with the rollout of Windows 7.
Of particular interest to Microsoft is convincing users of
Windows XP to switch over to the new operating system. Windows XP currently
powers around 80 percent of all commercial PCs, according to a research report
by Forrester Research.
"When the recession hit, one of the very first levers that
IT managers pulled to lower their IT costs was to extend the life of their
existing desktops from four to five years and laptops from three to four
analyst Benjamin Gray wrote in that report.
"Many more have held off on
refreshing their systems even longer because they're looking to tie in their PC
upgrade with their Windows 7 deployment."
With IT support for Windows XP gradually ending, IT shops
wanting to hold onto the older operating system will likely need to upgrade.
Extended support for Windows XP Service Packs 2 and 3 will end in April 2014,
although Forrester predicts that independent software vendors (ISVs) will start
to end their own XP support around the end of 2011, with a support "XP danger
zone" developing at the end of 2012.
A number of recent studies, however, indicate that many IT
administrators are prepared to make the upgrade to Windows 7. A new survey by
Chadwick Martin Bailey (CMB) of 145 IT professionals showed that 51 percent
planned to "standardize on Windows 7 for laptops and desktops" while 38 percent
would "do so with netbooks over the next two years."
Liz Eversoll, vice president of CDW Microsoft Solutions
Practice, suggested in an Oct. 19 interview with eWEEK that her company had
conducted a multi-company survey that showed IT professionals were interested
in jumping to Windows 7. CDW is a prominent technology reseller, marketing a
number of Windows-related products.
According to Eversoll, Windows 7's XP compatibility mode is
a particular point of sale for those IT pros, "because
in the past, one of the intimidators for an OS upgrade was that not all your
applications will run."
Despite that positive data, however, and the massive
marketing campaign tied to the launch, Microsoft executives have been
attempting to play down the possible seismic impact of Windows 7 on the tech
During a news conference in Munich,
Germany, Microsoft CEO
Steve Ballmer suggested that Windows 7 will likely not have a substantial
impact on a possible tech refresh into 2010. "There will be a surge of PCs but
it will probably not be huge," he told the media, also saying that it would
take some time for the tech sector to regain the sort of sales numbers it
enjoyed before the economic recession hit.
Nonetheless, Microsoft still needs Windows 7 to be a
substantial success, if only to reverse a declining revenue trend. For the
fourth quarter of fiscal 2009, Microsoft reported a 17 percent decline in
year-over-year revenue, with earnings of $13.10 billion that came in $1 billion
below Wall Street estimates. The hope is that Windows 7, along with the new
versions of other flagship products such as Office 2010, will produce a more
positive financial outlook over the next several quarters.
In order to push the new operating system as widely as
possible to businesses, Microsoft is offering Windows
7 Enterprise in a free 90-day trail edition
. That, combined with Upgrade
Advisor and other support programs, is what Microsoft executives evidently hope
will remove substantial barriers towards commercial users rapidly adopting