Microsoft may have a hard road ahead in convincing companies to adopt Windows 7, its upcoming operating system that represents the company's hopes for both increased revenue in a global recession and wiping out bad memories of Vista: According to a new survey by ScriptLogic Corp, six out of 10 companies will avoid purchasing Windows 7 when it debuts on Oct. 22.
Concerns over cost and interoperability with pre-existing applications, apparently, are the chief concerns among companies not planning to adopt the new operating system. According to the survey, some 60 percent of the 1,000 companies surveyed have no definitive plans to adopt Windows 7, while another 34 percent plan to be onboard with it by December 2010. A much smaller group - 5.4 percent of those surveyed - planned to have Windows 7 operating within their company by the end of 2009.
When asked for their reasons behind non-adoption, some 42 percent of those surveyed said that "lack of time and resources" was their chief motivator for not upgrading to Windows 7, while 39 percent cited concerns over the new operating system's compatibility with their existing applications.
The economy was a major factor in their decision-making, with 35 percent saying that their company had fallen into a habit of skipping upgrades and purchases in order to protect their bottom lines.
Microsoft has been planning an aggressive push for Windows 7, with massive price cuts and promotional offers designed to increase the scope of its worldwide rollout on Oct. 22. The new operating system will sell for roughly 10 percent less than Vista, Microsoft's much-maligned former operating system, and be broadly available at substantial discounts through Amazon, Best Buy and the Microsoft Website.
In addition, Microsoft has been offering upgrades for customers who purchase PCs preinstalled with Vista, through the Windows 7 Upgrade Option Program extending from June 26 through Jan. 31, 2010.
Microsoft is depending heavily on Windows 7 to be a success; a third of the company's 2008 revenue, or roughly $20 billion, came from sales of its operating system. Even though Microsoft has been pushing Windows 7 heavily onto high-end PCs, which offer the company higher margins, its focus has also been on mini-notebooks, known popularly as "netbooks." A rumor, currently drifting through the blogosphere, centers on Microsoft planning to release a stripped-down version of Windows 7 for netbooks on a USB memory stick.
Microsoft also faces the specter of increased competition from Google's newly announced Chrome OS, which will roll out in the second half of 2010. Designed specifically for netbooks, the Web-based Chrome OS could potentially eat into Microsoft's market share at the lower end of the PC market. In addition to offering the stripped-down Windows 7, Microsoft has been developing its own browser-based OS, code-named Gazelle, which could potentially roll out to counter Chrome OS at some undisclosed point in the future.
Although those surveyed by ScriptLogic voiced concerns about the compatibility of Windows 7 with their existing applications, Microsoft has attempted to address those issues. Much of the IT administrators' concerns may come from memories of Windows Vista, which had a reputation for breaking pre-existing enterprise hardware and software, and which compelled many companies to stick with Windows XP rather than upgrading. To counteract this, Microsoft designed Windows 7 so that applications built specifically for Windows XP will be able to run without issues on the new operating system.