Microsoft is counting on Windows 7 to counteract quarters of declining revenue and Vista's unpopularity. IT professionals interviewed by eWEEK indicate mixed feelings about a move to Windows 7, with some demanding increased value-add before a switch and others jumping on the new client after skipping Vista.
Microsoft needs a substantial hit in Windows 7 to counteract
quarters of declining revenues as well as Windows Vista's unpopularity.
Some analysts say that a tech refresh centered on Windows 7 is in the
cards for many SMBs and the enterprise, but interviews conducted by
eWEEK suggest that adoption may not be immediate nor wholehearted on
This hesitation seems to stem from a couple of issues.
The first is cost. In the midst of a massive global recession, firms
have been paring down their IT budgets and are less inclined to spend
on a tech refresh. This has led to a dip in PC sales that has caused a
ripple effect in Microsoft's cash flow: For the fourth fiscal quarter
of 2009, Redmond reported that its year-over-year revenues had declined
The second reason for hesitation about Windows 7 relates to
the legacy of Windows Vista, whose memory requirements, security issues
and lack of backward compatibility with many Windows XP applications
left many users feeling bruised. In turn, many of those users elected
to stay with Windows XP and their old PCs, which by 2008 had an
industrywide average age of 6.1 years, according to a report issued in
July by Deutsche Bank.
"I wish I had never seen Vista," said Gerry Heimann of
Raytheon, a major defense contractor. "I have removed it and returned
to XP, SP3 and my old version of Office."
Heimann wanted to make it clear that his views were his own and not
Raytheon's. That said, Heimann has no intention of embracing Windows 7
and Office 2010 as they stand now.
"I will never switch to Windows 7 or Office 10 unless
Microsoft does a better job at creating a product that is user-friendly
and improves the overall experience," Heimann said. "Vista has been a
very unrewarding product and an uncalled-for cost."
In his frustration, Heimann is "looking very hard at moving to
Apple," adding that Windows 7 and Office 2010 will present a potential
value only if the products prove faster and easier for him to use than
their previous iterations.
Other administrators who skipped Vista plan to upgrade to Windows 7.
Among their number is Raymond McKay, a network/telecom manager for the
MIS division of Warwick, RI. Early reports about the new operating
system, as well as in-house testing of the pre-release product, left
him "with a much better feeling about Windows 7 than Vista."
McKay's office didn't embrace Vista the first time around for a
number of reasons, including budget and known driver issues for many of
McKay's then-current machines.
"Also, we are an Active Directory shop," said McKay, "and did
not see the need to upgrade the servers just to manage the new OS."
The jump from Windows XP to Windows 7, which will require a clean
install and the backup of user information onto servers, is something
that McKay has been planning out for some time. The initial steps of
the Windows 7 upgrade will involve performing desktop refreshes with
machines where the new operating system is pre-installed, before
porting the new operating system onto some pre-existing machines.
It will be a substantial undertaking, but also an important one:
McKay's desktops are aging, and the lack of a system refresh for 18
months has made an upgrade a necessity.
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.