88% of Corporate PCs Windows 7 Ready: Report

With Windows 7’s official launch next Thursday, one thing that hamstrung Windows Vista’s corporate acceptance early on will likely not be a problem this time around.

It’s the classic problem of needing to upgrade hardware and software to support a new or updated version of Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) Windows — but this time, not so much.

That’s because, whereas only half of corporate PCs met the minimum system requirements to run Vista when it debuted in early 2007, currently 88 percent of corporate PCs meet the minimum requirements for Windows 7, according to a new study by IT solution provider Softchoice.

Additionally, some 65 percent of current corporate PCs meet “optimal” system recommendations to run the new system.

“Organizations have some work to do to shore up a small percentage of their fleet, but the natural PC refresh cycle has more or less eliminated system requirements as a potential stumbling block to deploying Windows 7,” Dean Williams, services development manager for Softchoice, said in a statement.

While the lack of a critical mass of PCs able to support it helped undercut Vista at the time, since then, corporate refresh cycles have brought a lot more Vista capable machines into the workplace.

“We’ve seen a sea change compared to the landscape in which Vista was introduced,” Williams said.

Meanwhile, Windows 7, which is based on Vista, is compatible with applications and device drivers written for Vista in the past two and a half years.

Assessing 450,000 corporate PCs

Softchoice said its survey was based on 450,000 corporate PCs it analyzed between November 2008 and August 2009 via its IT assessment services. The PCs it analyzed were located in 248 different organizations in the U.S. and Canada in fields as diverse as “financial, health care, manufacturing, and education.”

The study appears to re-enforce other recent news pointing to much more successful corporate adoption for Windows 7 than there was for Vista.

An recent analyst’s report forecast an earlier and stronger than typical take off of corporate adoption for Windows 7.

That report, authored by Katherine Egbert of Jefferies & Company, predicts that large-scale corporate adoptions will begin by mid-2010, a timeframe earlier than is typical for a new version of Windows. Typically, IT organizations wait as much as a year after its release before they start testing a new version of Windows, followed by several months of deployment.

A ‘free’ upgrade

However, another point Williams said may help put the adoption pattern for Windows 7 into high gear. Most corporate IT shops have Software Assurance contracts with Microsoft. With Software Assurance, a customer pays subscription fees over a number of years and, in return, receives all the updates released for a particular product over the term of the subscription.

“The fact that so many organizations are already entitled to [upgrade without added costs] through Microsoft’s Software Assurance should remove cost as a potential barrier,” Williams added.

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