As Microsoft heads into the launch of Windows 7 on Oct. 22, its ecosystem partners have been busy suggesting that the new operating system will kindle a substantial tech refresh among both consumers and the enterprise.
"Windows 7 is the best quality product launch that Microsoft has had in a very long time," Stephen Schuckenbrock, Dell's president for large enterprise, told Reuters on Oct. 19. "When you consider that Vista was a bust, Windows 7 is a capability upgrade on a scale that has really never been seen before."
Schuckenbrock went on to suggest that the enterprise would begin their tech refresh in mid-2010. Dell and Microsoft, of course, have an extensive partnership within the enterprise, with Dell recently integrating its OpenManage systems management offerings with Microsoft's System Center suite in a unified IT infrastructure package for businesses.
Over the course of the summer, it was Intel that took pole position as Microsoft's Windows 7 cheerleader, hosting press conferences in which executives from both companies extolled the operating system's processor speed and battery life as superior to that of Windows Vista.
Other tests during that presentation showed that Windows 7 operated faster than Vista. Executives cautioned, though, that individual device configuration ultimately decides the level of performance improvement.
In July, Intel Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Sean Maloney told the media at the Intel Technology Summit that Windows 7 would be adopted more quickly throughout the enterprise than Vista, saying that, "We think it makes overwhelming sense if you have a 3-year-old PC to replace the thing, for security violations, virus, power consumption, etc. etc. etc."
Intel famously refused to deploy Vista in 2008. However, a substantial tech refresh by businesses, driven by Windows 7, would directly benefit the company's revenues. Intel was quick to declare earlier this summer that it would begin using Windows 7 internally.
In what could be a predictor of future good news for Microsoft, analyst reports indicate that the IT industry will indeed undergo a tech refresh in 2010, as the economy begins to modestly improve.
During an Oct. 19 presentation at the Gartner Symposium/ITExpo 2009 in Orlando, Fla., analysts from Gartner suggested that the IT industry would experience a 3.3 percent increase in spending in 2010. However, despite that uptick, the industry will not see revenues reach 2008 levels until 2012.
The next year "is about balancing the focus on cost, risk and growth," Gartner analyst Peter Sondergaard said during the event. "For more than 50 percent of CIOs, the IT budget will be 0 percent or less in growth terms. It will only slowly improve in 2011."
While a tech refresh would be an unmitigated good for Microsoft, a slower rate of Windows 7 adoption may have consequences for their revenue stream, which has been gradually declining throughout 2009. Microsoft will announce its earnings from the fourth fiscal quarter on Oct. 23, the day after the launch of Windows 7.