If Microsoft executives are hoping that releasing Windows 7 later this year will give a big kickstart to sales of the new system in IT shops, a new survey provides some sobering news: Don’t hold your breath.
That’s according to new findings from market analysis firm Dimensional Research, which said 82 percent of IT decision makers will wait at least a year after Windows 7 ships before beginning deployments. Only 17 percent said they would deploy within 12 months of the ship date.
And despite indications that an upgrade from Vista to Windows 7 might be easier than coming from XP, don’t count on many using Vista to fill the gap. The survey, which polled 1,142 IT professionals last month and which was commissioned by systems management appliance vendor KACE, also found that 83 percent will skip Windows Vista completely and go straight from Windows XP to Windows 7.
That means that revenue from operating system sales may remain in the doldrums for as much as another year.
Although the two figures aren’t mutually inclusive, it’s still telling that such a large percentage of IT decision makers will wait for Windows 7, and that an identical percentage will wait at least a year after Windows 7 ships before beginning deployment of the newest version of Windows.
In fact, another 17 percent said they will wait more than three years after Windows 7 ships before deploying it, Dimensional Research said in its report.
That means that conventional wisdom continues to hold: It’s typically thought that IT shops delay on installing a new version of Windows from one year to 18 months in order to perform their own compatibility and validation testing, as well as to pilot and finalize deployment plans.
However, with so many IT shops already eschewing the two-year-old Windows Vista, Microsoft may have been hopeful that release of Windows 7 would open the floodgates, encouraging them to speed up the usual IT vetting process. The same is true for companies like KACE, which stand to pick up customers from the adoption of Windows 7.
“We expected to see a more rapid approach to Windows 7, but what we saw was a ‘go slow’ approach instead,” Wynn White, KACE vice president of marketing, told InternetNews.com.
With Vista, Microsoft ran into roadblocks with many enterprise customers who complained that the OS, at least initially, had lacked device drivers, suffered compatibility issues with some corporate applications, and experienced performance problems.
White also said IT professionals seem reluctant to deploy a system that is even based on Vista, as is Windows 7.
“Seventy-two percent said they were more concerned about upgrading to Windows 7 than staying with XP,” White said.
Microsoft struggled to solve those problems with significant success. But despite two Service Packs — one out for a year already and the second one set to arrive any day — adoption of Vista in enterprises still lags by most accounts.
Indeed, Gartner released a report in late March advocating that IT shops adopt Windows 7 sooner rather than later.
Gartner’s advice, however, may not be getting through to IT staffers. Other recent IT adoption surveys, including one released in December by Information Technology Intelligence Corp (ITIC) which found that nearly 50 percent of the IT shops it polled wouldwait until Windows 7 ships, back up that conclusion.
Additionally, another survey firm, ChangeWave Research, released a poll late last month that reinforces ITIC’s results. It found that 53 percent of IT organizations will skip Vista to move directly from XP to Windows 7.
Of course, the economy also plays a role. In the Dimensional Research study, 43 percent of those polled said that economic factors are contributing to the delay in adopting Windows 7, once it ships.
One of the interesting aspects of the Dimensional Research survey is the opportunity it points up for other operating systems — for instance, the possible implications for Linux and Mac OS.
Half of those polled said they considered an alternative operating system and more than a quarter of those said they would choose Mac OS.
“If I were Microsoft, I’d be taking notice,” White said. Besides the Mac, he added, “Ubuntu has really taken off in the last couple of years.”