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RealTime IT News

Customers Take Their Time Getting Cozy with XP

It was launched nine weeks ago, but adopters of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows XP have been merely humming along in mastering the software giant's new, prized operating system darling, according to a recent study from International Data Corp.

The Framingham, Mass.-based market research firm surveyed over 300 known Windows-using IT managers and gauged responses to Licensing 6.0 terms, receptiveness to Windows XP and the Windows.Net server family, as well as adoption rates for Active Directory. In summary, full adoption would seem to be lukewarm at the moment.

"Most Microsoft customers will continue to follow the Windows roadmap, with broad plans for Active Directory deployment. However, users say their movement to Microsoft's latest operating systems will proceed on their schedule, not on Microsoft's schedule," said Al Gillen, research manager for IDC's Operating Environments service.

So much for the $500 million advertising and marketing blitz. To be sure, the survey found that Licensing 6.0 does not appear to have a dramatic impact on most users in terms of purchasing, with the most IT managers surveyed either still evaluating the new licensing process effects or not concerned with the changes it introduces.

It should be noted that 15.4 percent of survey respondents say that Licensing 6.0 lends the incentive to seek alternate products, because Microsoft's has increased software licensing fees. The Licensing 6.0 launch transition period ends July 31, 2002.

Still, Gillen said that despite the boost in licensing fees, few customers will be replacing their Windows applications with alternate products over the short term. As a result of this, Gillen said competitive products need to continue to offer a strong interoperability with Microsoft products.

IDC also said there is no apparent rush by businesses to adopt Windows XP or Windows.Net, particularly because IT managers are still implementing Windows 2000. Moreover, adoption of complex Active Directory appears to coincide with the implementation of Windows 2000; according to the survey, 36 percent of respondents have delayed their Windows 2000 rollouts because of the complexity associated with Active Directory.

Analysts and research firms have poured forth to weigh in on XP, both gauging statistics and making predictions. In November, NPD Intelect reported that retailers were able to ship sold over 300,000 copies of the new OS in the U.S. from Oct. 25-27.

NPD analyst Steve Koenig attributed this to the marketing blitz.

"At some retailers, you needed a wheelbarrow to carry away all the free hardware and software products being offered with a purchase of XP," Koenig said. "Offers like these convinced several fence-sitters to go ahead and make the move to the new OS."

Gartner Dataquest analysts Michael Silver and Charles Smulders aren't so sure what effect XP will have, particularly with regard to PC sales. In an October report, they said consumers would be the majority of first movers to XP, but that XP adopters would still not help PC sales rise much.

"Gartner believes the marketing hype surrounding the launch will not do enough to lift PC sales noticeably in 4Q01," the analysts said. "Structural problems most importantly market saturation and economic conditions will determine growth rates to a greater extent. Gartner Dataquest forecasts that worldwide PC shipments in 4Q01 will likely decline by 13.2 percent compared to 4Q00. For 2001, worldwide PC shipments will likely decline by 6.6 percent compared to 2000."

Gartner predicted that XP will reach 16 percent of new commercial PCs in 2002, with Windows 2000 Professional owning the most real estate, on 41 percent of PCs.