A Microsoft-sponsored Forrester Research report into the costs and challenges of supporting IT workers has become the basis for Redmond's newest push to support Windows 7, its upcoming operating system. Using the report's data, which suggests that SMBs (small and midsize businesses) and the enterprise are under assault by bloated corporate PC images, decentralization problems and an overwhelming flood of help-desk calls, Microsoft is holding up case studies it says show that Windows 7 can help mitigate many of these issues.
With Labor Day in the rearview mirror and the new operating system's release date of Oct. 22 ever closer, the push for Windows 7 has entered high gear. On Sept. 1, Microsoft announced the availability of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 through Microsoft Volume License Resellers. To help speed the adoption of the operating system, Redmond is also offering a six-month deal in which purchasers of Windows 7 Professional upgrade will be entitled to a 15-percent price cut.
The Microsoft-commissioned Forrester report, which surveyed 318 IT professionals and conducted in-depth follow-up interviews with 10 of them, had six key findings with regard to the challenges and costs facing IT administrators in the enterprise:
Decentralization and Mobility
"Today's information works are highly decentralized and mobile, which necessitates significant annual spending on connectivity and WAN optimization services," the report read. "We learned that more than 3 out [of] 5 employees work outside of their organization's headquarters." Furthermore, the enterprises surveyed had an average of 174 branch offices worldwide - all of which, of course, needed to be supported.
Bloated Corporate PC Images and Siloed Processes
The surveyed organizations supported an average of 215 different applications worldwide - not including legacy applications never scrubbed from the company's IT infrastructure. "We also discovered that the average user has 16 applications installed on their work PC, but this doesn't take into account the proliferation of applications that some users install on their own."
Help Desk Calls
Around one out of 7 monthly help-desk calls, Forrester found, were due to users corrupting their PCs by installing unauthorized software. Some 23 percent of monthly help-desk calls were users requiring software installations.
Roughly 10 percent of help desk calls were due to VPN-related issues, a problem that stems from the increase in mobile and network connectivity and the need for mobile workers to access data while on the road.
Lack of Ability to Trace USB Thumb Drive Usage and Theft
The surveyed firms lost an average of 55 PCs, with each PC storing an average of 53 GB of corporate data. Around five percent of removable storage devices were also lost or stolen every year.
Hard Drives with Lack of Optimization
The need to search hard-drives for data and documents wastes time that could otherwise be utilized productively.
Furthermore, Forrester found that companies considered the following to be a "critically or very important business priority":
- Controlling Costs (87 percent)
- Security (86 percent)
- Improving Employee Productivity (84 percent)
- Improving Employee Mobility (54 percent)
Microsoft has now used that data as a basis to tout how Windows 7 will allegedly solve many long-standing IT issues within the enterprise, while also saving IT dollars. In a round of briefings between Microsoft executives and the media, Redmond has been pushing three case studies - U.K.-based Baker Tilly, the City of Miami, and Getronics - as examples of early Windows 7 adopters who saw substantial benefits from integrating the new operating system into their IT infrastructure.
With regard to the City of Miami, Microsoft has been claiming that the adoption of Windows 7 saved the government $54 per PC per year in power savings. Redmond also said, in both briefings and a press release circulated to media, that Windows 7 capabilities such as Remote Desktop have saved labor costs on the part of city IT staff, reducing the need to dispatch technicians to user locations by as much as 90 percent.
Redmond also cites the experience of Baker Tilly, claiming that the company saved 18 percent of PC management costs due to the deployment of Windows 7. Microsoft estimates that the direct cost savings of IT labor dedicated to PC management will be in the range of $89 to $160 annually, a figure that can also be expressed as IT pros saving up to two hours of labor per desktop annually.
Windows 7 has become Microsoft's perhaps most-vital pillar in its quest to reverse a trend in declining revenues. For the fourth fiscal quarter of 2009, Redmond reported a decline of 17 percent in year-over-year revenue, earning $13.10 billion for the quarter - roughly $1 billion below Wall Street estimates.
In the face of this decline, Microsoft has revised its corporate strategy to focus on a number of key upcoming products, including Windows 7 and Office 2010. Historically, roughly a third of Microsoft's annual income has come from operating-system sales. Companies within its ecosystem have joined in the push, with Intel suggesting publicly throughout the summer that the rollout of Windows 7 will prompt a massive corporate tech refresh.
In order to further compel SMBs the enterprise to upgrade, Microsoft has taken steps such as offering a 90-day free trial edition of Windows 7 Enterprise to IT administrators and other professionals. That trial edition, which is available in both 32- and 64-bit versions and a variety of languages, can be downloaded here.