Will Corporate Windows 7 Adoption Beat Vista's?

News Analysis: Windows 7 adoption is a major concern for Microsoft right now. It's looking for early signs that corporate buyers will respond more enthusiatically to Windows 7 than they ever did to Vista. There are a few tentative indicators that corporate buyers will be more willing to jump on the Windows 7 bandwagon. But these are tempered by the recession weighing down on business investment and by a persistent wariness by IT managers to switching to the new operating system unless they are convinced a Windows 7 upgrade will deliver more benefits and go more smoothly than Vista ever did.

Windows 7 is now less than three months away, and Microsoft is doing all it can to build buzz. Companies that are growing tired of their outdated Windows XP machines, meanwhile, are anxiously awaiting the new operating system's arrival.

Intel, the company that made headlines last year after admitting that it would not deploy Windows Vista across its network due to the operating system's issues, for one, has been quite outspoken about expected Windows 7 adoption.
Speaking at the company's Technology Summit in San Francisco Wednesday, Intel said that it sees "one big positive" when it considers the impact Windows 7 will have on the market. It believes that the operating system will easily best anything Microsoft released with Windows Vista. More importantly, Intel's Sean Maloney said that "this time, we think [Windows 7 adoption] will go faster."
It raises an interesting point. Windows Vista adoption was abysmal. Although Microsoft tried its best to affirm Vista's popularity in the market, several small and major companies decided against deploying it out of fear of incompatibility and the high hardware cost associated with it. They reasoned that it would be better to stick with Windows XP-an operating system that they knew worked-rather than switch to an operating system that some competitors were having real trouble with.
That said, Intel's affirmation that it expects to equip its employees with Windows 7 computers is good news for Microsoft. Intel thinks that it will be one of many holdouts that will be happy with Windows 7.
But what about Vista? Surely, Microsoft doesn't want the operating system to look like a total failure. And with just under three months to go before Windows 7 hits store shelves, it seems that Microsoft's time is running out if it wants to make something of Vista. Perhaps, for the good of the company, Microsoft will start offering steep discounts on the software, trying desperately to make companies and consumers jump for a Vista machine to receive a free Windows 7 upgrade later. It could help Microsoft save some face. And it could put more computers into organizations that were looking to save as much cash as possible.
Then again, it might not.
The Bad News
A recent survey found that even though Windows 7 is widely considered a superior operating system to Windows Vista, most IT managers don't want to switch to the new operating system just yet.

According to ScriptLogic, six in 10 companies will not be upgrading their computers when Microsoft releases Windows 7 in October. About 60 percent of the 1,000 companies surveyed said the cost of deploying Windows 7 and concerns over the compatibility of current hardware and software solutions were major concerns. Moreover, 42 percent of those respondents said a "lack of time and resources" was another contributing factor. However, some of those companies do plan to eventually upgrade their equipment when the time is right.
Regardless, that is a dangerous finding for Microsoft. The company has spent considerable energy trying to fix the mistakes it made with Windows Vista. Windows 7's new XP mode should help most companies with compatibility issues that might arise. Even Microsoft's steeply discounted pricing, which has been used to attract more customers sooner, is a response to the company's decision to offer Windows Vista at such a high price when it was released.
But unfortunately for the company, there are some factors that are playing against it. The economy is still wreaking havoc on enterprises; some organizations are wary of deploying a new Windows operating system after the issues they had with Vista; and, worst of all, some companies are content with XP. They have no reason to update.
The Good News
Although those are all concerns for Microsoft, it's doubtful that adoption will be slow for long. Anyone who has used Windows 7 knows that it's far superior to Windows Vista. Windows XP mode is an extremely important feature that can't be discounted. Some companies are starting to see a light at the end of the recession's tunnel. And as long as Microsoft can wait them out, there's little chance that most companies using Windows XP machines today won't need to update their computers at some point in the future.
So, perhaps it's a waiting game for Microsoft. As Deutsche Bank found in a recent survey when it asked IT managers if they planned on deploying Windows 7 across their networks, patience will be a virtue for Redmond.
"Windows 7 penetration rates could exceed the levels achieved with Windows Vista and start to match the penetration rates that XP and Windows 2000 took two years to reach, potentially within 12 to 18 months," the report claimed.
Those findings might not be ideal for Microsoft, a company that would have liked to see XP-like rates almost immediately, but it's better than Vista.
Luckily for Microsoft, it seems Windows 7 will step out from under Vista's rather large, menacing shadow.

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger is a longtime freelance contributor to several technology and business publications. Over his career, Don has written about everything from geek-friendly gadgetry to issues of privacy...