Big business — the so-called enterprise market — overwhelmingly skipped Microsoft’s (MSFT) Windows Vista, with 71% of all big corporations still chugging along on the ageing but functional Windows XP more than two years after Vista launched. Will they rush to Microsoft’s next OS, Windows 7?
That’s looking unlikely — or at least a slower process than Microsoft may have hoped. Some 83% of big businesses don’t plan on upgrading to Windows 7 in its first year of availability, says a survey of 1,100 IT professionals summarized by InformationWeek:
“Less than half of the IT pros surveyed, 42%, said their organisations planned to deploy Windows 7 within 12 to 24 months of release. 24% said they would wait 24 to 36 months, and 17% said they would wait more than 36 months to migrate to Windows 7.”
That’s not too alarming on its own: Big companies rarely jump onto new Windows versions right away, waiting to see how the new OS plays in the real world — or even for Microsoft to release the first ‘Service Pack’ update. If things go well, or the economy gets better, organisations can always accelerate their plans.
Companies’ biggest gripe: Software compatibility. While the Vista-to-7 upgrade path is fairly painless — as the two versions of Windows share a lot of code — going from XP to 7 is difficult and time-consuming. It could easily be the biggest IT initiative of the year for many companies that make the upgrade. So this is something Microsoft should aim to make less painful.
It’s hard to say what else Microsoft can do to juice corporate interest in 7. (We’d love to hear your ideas.) But the company needs to get cracking: Together with MS Office, Windows is one of the pillars of Microsoft’s business. In Microsoft’s most recent quarter, Windows accounted for more than 40% of the company’s operating income.
So Microsoft will have to make sure these companies upgrade to Windows 7 eventually — preferably as soon as possible. But if they can really convert 83% of companies to upgrade to Windows 7 within three years — as the survey results suggest — that’ll be a much bigger success than Vista.