Windows 8 is an important product for Microsoft — it has to rekindle consumer interest in PCs while meeting the threat of the iPad.But in the enterprise? Not so much.
For enterprises, Microsoft still thinks there’s plenty of upside in selling Windows 7, even after Windows 8 is out.
“For the enterprise the path to Windows 8 is through Windows 7,” said Microsoft investor relations chief Bill Koefoed at an investors’ conference earlier this week. (A transcript in Word document format is here.)
Koefoed noted that Windows 7 has been a big hit in the enterprise. One-third of business PCs have upgraded since it was released in late 2009. But that means that two-thirds have not.
On April 18, 2014, Microsoft will “end of life” Windows XP (which by that time will be more than 13 years old). That means Microsoft will no longer support it or offer updates or patches for it.
That sets a hard deadline for these customers to upgrade — to Windows 7.
Once those Windows 7 computers are in place, Microsoft can try to sell Windows 8 upgrades for those PCs (Microsoft has promised that any PC running Windows 7 will also run Windows 8), or get companies to add new tablets running Windows 8.
From the transcript:
Q: How should investors think about the Windows 7 sales leading up to the Windows 8 launch, both on the corporate side and on the consumer side? When do you think there will be a freeze-up on the consumer side, and do you think corporations will freeze up or that it doesn’t affect them?
BILL KOEFOED: One of the things that I talked about on ‑‑ I can’t remember whether it was me or [CFO] Peter [Klein] who talked about it on the earnings call, was that one third of businesses have upgraded to Windows 7. So, just as a reminder, I think it’s less than 800 days that XP goes end of life. That would require that two-thirds of the business PCs that haven’t upgraded to Windows 7 need to do that in a relatively short period of time. And we’ve been working very closely with businesses to focus on an upgrade path from XP to Windows 7. There’s hardware that will be involved with that. There’s some software that will be involved with that. But, the path ‑‑ for the enterprise the path to Windows 8 is through Windows 7. And we’re working very closely with them on doing that.