Windows 7 Will See Greater Business Adoption: Forrester

Microsoft's Windows 7 will see greater uptake by businesses in coming years, according to a new research report from Forrester.

Microsoft can expect businesses to adopt Windows 7 in greater numbers over the next few years, as those firms undergo an inevitable tech refresh. That's the conclusion drawn from a Nov. 2 report by research firm Forrester Research, which also suggests those firms will use the tech-refresh opportunity to install their offices with a variety of new hardware and software.

"More than a year after its general availability (GA) launch, Windows 7 powers one out of every 10 PCs within North American and European companies," write the report's principal authors, Benjamin Gray and Christian Kane. "While far from overwhelming-especially considering that Windows XP still powers 75 [percent]-IT managers worldwide are preparing for a significant desktop transformation over the next three years."

The continuing tech refresh, Gray and Kane add, will ultimately drive that transformation. "IT managers are already deploying Windows 7 on 31 [percent] of new PCs today, and within a year the number will increase to 83 [percent]," they write. "But this desk transformation ... also involves empowering their workforce with more modern browsers, office suite and productivity applications, connectivity options, and security controls."

That combination of Windows XP reaching the end of its support timeframe, along with businesses needing to upgrade their aging IT infrastructure, will be prime drivers behind the combination tech refresh and Windows 7 switchover. In addition, Gray and Kane see virtualization as having matured to the point where it can greatly assist a migration.

A previous Forrester survey seems to support the report's assumptions. "Last year when we fielded a similar survey, only 7 [percent] of firms said they planned to deploy Windows 7 within the next 12 months or that they had already begun," the analysts write. "This number has skyrocketed to 46 [percent] of firms now reporting that they have begun or will begin deploying Windows 7 within the next 12 months."

That 46 percent is added to the 42 percent who apparently plan to deploy Windows 7 at some point beyond the next 12 months-bringing Forrester's grand total of Windows 7-readying firms to almost 90 percent.

Forrester makes two recommendations for commercial Windows 7 migration.

First, "Windows XP shops should accelerate application compatibility testing against Windows 7 SP1 and plan to tie in the upgrade to Windows 7 with the natural PC refresh cycle of the business." For those businesses, the timeframe for Windows XP is closing, with Service Pack 3's extended support scheduled to end on April 8, 2014.

Second, Windows Vista shops should test their necessary applications against Windows 7 SP1. "For PCs that reach their natural end of life, begin deploying Windows 7 SP1 on the replacement hardware," the report suggests. "Plan to undergo a companywide Windows 7 migration in order to receive continued support from Microsoft beyond its end of mainstream support on April 10, 2012."

Forrester's assertion that Windows 7 powers one in every 10 business PCs seems in keeping with Microsoft's sales numbers. Last month, the company announced that some 240 million Windows 7 licenses had been sold since its release in October 2009.