A recent survey conducted by ScriptLogic asked more than 1,000 companies if they plan to deploy Windows 7 when it's released on Oct. 22. According to the research company, a whopping 60 percent of respondents said they have no plans to deploy Windows 7.
Furthermore, only 5.4 percent of those who responded to the survey said they plan to install Windows 7 on corporate computers in 2009. Another 34 percent said they expect to deploy it by the end of 2010.
The most common reason given for not deploying Windows 7 was "lack of time and resources." A full 39 percent of those surveyed said they were reluctant to deploy the new Microsoft operating system for fear of incompatibility issues similar to those that plagued Windows Vista when it was released.
At first glance, it might seem like there is trouble waiting for Microsoft. The company invested so much into this new operating system and, if ScriptLogic's results are to be believed, the majority of companies won't be using Windows 7. It's a scary prospect for the software giant.
But it's doubtful that this survey is cause for alarm.
Surveys are interesting things. With the right questions and the right math, they can say anything the researcher wants them to say. And while I won't debate the accuracy of the ScriptLogic survey, I do believe that it leaves out some important enterprise considerations, which might make the situation seem worse than it really is.
The corporate world lives and dies on hardware cycles. Every few years, company computers start getting hobbled by poor performance. The hardware is outdated. The operating system isn't running at peak performance. And IT managers need to go out, work with vendors and acquire new computers for employees.
Since Vista wasn't adopted nearly as heavily as Microsoft would have liked in the corporate world, many companies have decided against upgrading their hardware and instead are sticking with Windows XP machines. Most of those computers are now more than four or five years old. They will undoubtedly need to be updated within the next couple of years. Under normal circumstances, that update would probably happen sooner rather than later.
But we're not living under normal circumstances. The prolonged recession has caused many companies to push back updates due to resource restrictions. They simply don't have the cash available to buy new computers and deploy Windows 7.
So, they will wait. And so will Microsoft.
Compatibility fears will vanish
Although one of Vista's biggest problems was incompatibility with corporate hardware and software, Windows 7 won't suffer from those problems. Not only will it support every Vista-compatible application, XP Mode will ensure that any software package currently running on XP will be supported as well.
That's a major feat for Microsoft and one that most companies will welcome when Windows 7 is released. Compatibility is everything in the enterprise. Without it, employees wouldn't have access to the applications they need to do their jobs. Knowing that Windows 7 will be compatible with anything a company is using now should help put uneasy minds to rest. For companies that are currently running XP for fear of incompatibility, Microsoft is promising that every single software package and hardware accessory will work with Windows 7. Once the 39 percent of respondents who said they were fearful of incompatibility issues realize that, I'm certain many will be gearing up to switch to Windows 7.
Forget about the competition
Although ScriptLogic did not ask companies about competing products, already some pundits are saying the company's survey results might be even worse with Google's Chrome OS added to the equation. They claim that the online operating system is making some think twice about Windows and employ a wait-and-see attitude to determine whether Google's operating system will be good for their business.
That argument is nonsense. Chrome OS can't compete on any level with Windows. It will be underpowered, designed specifically for netbooks when first released and won't have the software compatibility required by the enterprise. This survey has nothing to do with the competition. It has everything to do with the state of the economy and the corporate world's willingness, or unwillingness, to invest cash in new computers.
In the end, whether or not the enterprise will elect to deploy Windows 7 shouldn't be in doubt. Windows 7 is far superior to Windows Vista, it has all the options required to make it compatible with anything the enterprise is using now and it has features that make it the only logical choice for corporate customers.
ScriptLogic's survey might claim otherwise, but I don't think Microsoft has anything to fear when it comes to Windows 7. It will be a corporate success.