Microsoft's Windows 7 Means End of XP for Business, Says Report
Microsoft's Windows 7 will likely spell the end of Windows XP before the end of the aging operating system's extended support in April 2014, according to a new report issued by research firm Forrester. A majority of corporate PC decision-makers surveyed by Forrester intend to upgrade to Windows 7, although their timeframe for adoption varies widely. Despite data suggesting a Windows 7-fueled tech refresh is imminent, a few background factors could impede its spread in the enterprise.The bell tolls for thee, XP.
Microsoft's Windows XP powers 80 percent of all commercial PCs, according to a new report by research firm Forrester, but the reign of the increasingly aged operating system is finally coming to an end. But XP's end will also not come quickly, even after the launch of Windows 7 on Oct. 22.
The factors contributing to the end of "Windows XP's corporate reign," writes Forrester's Benjamin Gray, include the need to refresh aging IT infrastructure, the upcoming end of Windows XP support, a squeeze in XP's availability, Windows 7 features that make an upgrade potentially useful, and Windows XP Mode removing the application-incompatibility barrier.
Gartner analysts Stephen Kleynhans and Michael Silver, in their presentation, suggested that IT shops could potentially find benefits in Windows 7's applications and features, including better UAC (User Account Control), BitLocker and BitLocker To Go, AppLocker, Direct Access, and an updated user interface.
The Forrester report cites many of those same features as potentially useful to the enterprise, adding that IT administrators need to prepare for their deployment:
The last hurdle to Windows 7 adoption, Gray believes, was potential application incompatibility with the new operating system; something he feels that Windows XP mode, which allows those applications to be run in a virtual XP-compatible environment, will solve that issue for administrators.
An accompanying Forrester survey of 653 PC decision-makers at North American and European enterprises and SMBs found that six out of 10 firms plan on moving directly to Windows 7, despite the lack of an easy upgrade path for those firms currently deploying XP. Some 32 percent of those firms using Windows Vista hadn't decided on their next step, while 2 percent planned to migrate to a non-Windows platform.
Of the PC decision-makers surveyed:
- 7 percent had "specific plans to deploy Windows 7 in the next 12 months or have already begun."
- 10 percent had "specific plans to deploy Windows 7 but won't start in the next 12 months."
- 49 percent "expect to migrate to Windows 7 but have no specific plans yet."
- 27 percent reported not having looking at Windows 7 yet, "so we're not sure."
- 1 percent planned "to skip Windows 7 and wait for the next release."
- 1 percent planned "to migrate from Windows to a different platform."
- 5 percent said "Don't know."
The Forrester and Gartner reports' data seems to correlate with that of other surveys, all suggesting that the enterprise and SMBs will engage in a tech refresh that, although widespread, will be somewhat dampened in its speed by the effects of a moribund economy.
In an Oct. 12 report, Jefferies & Co. analyst Katherine Egbert suggested that a "Win7-inspired upgrade cycle can start in late 2010 and run through early 2013," with new hardware purchases expected to precede software upgrades by around six months. That echoes earlier surveys by Deutsche Bank and others that suggest companies are looking to upgrade their infrastructure with Windows 7, particularly those with an interest in either virtualization or 64-bit computing. Another survey by IT asset management company Softchoice suggested that 88 percent of corporate PCs meet the minimum hardware system requirements to run Windows 7, a problem that plagued Vista during its release.
That being said, a handful of background factors could potentially impede the adoption of Microsoft's new operating system or dissuade certain firms from plunging wholeheartedly into a Windows-centric tech refresh. Those factors include a "wait and see" attitude by firms that felt burned by the much-maligned Windows Vista, a mishandled marketing campaign toward businesses or lingering issues with upgrading or adoption.
In an attempt to prevent this scenario and disseminate the operating system as rapidly as possible through the enterprise, Microsoft has been particularly aggressive in its promotional efforts around Windows 7, including offering a free 90-day trial edition of Windows 7 Enterprise for IT administrators in addition to price cuts.