No Enterprise Thaw for Vista

eWEEK research shows that negative perception of the Windows Vista operating system is growing.

If Windows Vista were a person, it would have an inferiority complex. Not since Windows ME has a Microsoft operating system seen such cool business reception. Indeed, research shows that many enterprises hope to leapfrog Vista altogether.

Two recent events should have opened the gates holding back enterprise adoption of Windows Vista: the release of Service Pack 1-typically the point at which businesses begin to deploy a new Windows operating system-and Windows XP's exodus from the OEM channel.

However, in a recent survey conducted by Ziff Davis Enterprise Research for eWEEK, nearly three-quarters of respondents indicated that SP1 would have no effect on their Windows adoption plans.

The survey of about 400 IT decision makers-conducted in conjunction with Peerstone Research, on behalf of Sanford Bernstein-was done in May 2008, one year after a similar survey of IT managers. For this report, the results of the two surveys were analyzed to determine trends in Vista adoption over time.

Respondents to the May 2008 survey expect to have as many as 9 percent of their PCs running Vista by year's end-25 months after the release of the operating system on PCs. That percentage rises to only 28 percent in 2010, according to the survey.

Similarly, nearly 50 percent of respondents to the 2008 survey said Windows XP's end of mainstream OEM distribution would have no effect on Vista adoption plans. That said, 28 percent indicated that XP's end would accelerate their adoption plans.

The latter number fits nicely with other data from the recent eWEEK survey. IT managers surveyed said 27 percent of their PCs purchased in the next year would have Windows Vista.

Microsoft largely pulled Windows XP from the OEM channel on June 30. An XP downgrade license can still be obtained on PCs with Windows Vista Business or Windows Vista Ultimate.

But the percentage of Windows XP adoption increased three times more than the percentage increase of PCs running Vista, according to data obtained from the two eWEEK surveys. (The increase in Vista adoption likely would have been higher had Microsoft not released Windows XP Service Pack 3 two months after Windows Vista SP1.)

This indicates that the majority of surveyed businesses running older Windows versions migrated to XP instead of Vista. Microsoft had counted on businesses with Windows 2000 and older versions going to Vista, according to company executives and industry analysts. The newest Windows saw some conversion, but XP saw much more. The percentage of business PCs running Windows XP increased to 83 percent from 74 percent during the time period covered by the eWEEK surveys conducted over 12 months. Vista adoption increased to 5 percent from 2 percent during the same time period.

A July Forrester Research report corroborates the more recent eWEEK study, within the margin error for both surveys. Forrester surveyed about 50,000 users at more than 2,000 organizations. Vista enterprise adoption was a mere 8.8 percent in June, up from 6.2 percent in January. By comparison, Windows XP had 87.1 percent adoption.

Other recent studies or reports also indicate that enterprises aren't rushing to deploy Vista.

For example, in April, Gartner made a presentation titled, "Windows Is Collapsing: How What Comes Next Will Improve." And in July, KACE survey findings, conducted by King Research, showed that the number of enterprises with no Vista deployment plans had increased since 2007 (60 percent compared with 53 percent).