Report Says Most Firms Will Wait On Windows 7

Dimensional Research, Sunnyvale, Calif., recently conducted an online survey of 1,100 IT professionals worldwide and found that 83 percent have no plans to upgrade their Windows PCs to Windows 7 in the next year. It's an odd claim given that Microsoft hasn't released Windows 7 yet, but the idea seems to be that even if Microsoft sticks to its late 2009 time frame for releasing Windows 7, most customers aren't going to migrate right away.

Forty-three percent of respondents said the economic malaise will cause them to hold off on Windows 7 in the next year, but that doesn't appear to be the only reason. Sixty-seven percent cited concerns over Windows 7, and 88 percent of this group said the prospect of application incompatibility issues would cause them to delay moving to Windows 7.

The survey, which was sponsored by systems management vendor KACE, Mountain View, Calif., also found that 83 percent of participants plan to move from XP directly to Windows 7. Seventy-two percent indicated that they're more worried about the hassles of upgrading to Windows 7 than they are about staying on XP, which was released nearly eight years ago.

Microsoft isn't providing a direct XP-to-Windows 7 upgrade path, and for the past year has been urging XP customers to upgrade to Vista before Windows 7 to minimize compatibility issues.

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Microsoft waited too long to release a follow-up to XP, and despite the new features in Windows 7, it will still be tough for many customers to justify the expense associated with upgrading to Windows 7, said one source who requested anonymity.

Microsoft's fundamental mistake was letting XP become too ingrained in its customers' infrastructures, the source said. "Microsoft has to figure out a way to convince people that there's a benefit to upgrading -- that's what they failed to do with Vista -- and I still don't see enough value in Windows 7 to convince people to make the switch."

However, some solution providers say there's a huge amount of pent-up demand for Windows 7.

"XP is a bit like an old pickup: It may not be pretty, but it gets the job done," said Daniel Duffy, CEO of Valley Network Solutions, a Microsoft Gold partner in Fresno, Calif. "But sooner or later this economy has to rebound, and when it does, I think many people will upgrade to Windows 7."

"Windows 7 is faster and more flexible than Vista, and I have tons of customers who can't wait to get their hands on it," said Todd Swank, vice president of marketing at system builder Nor-Tech, Burnsville, Minn. "Some users have avoided moving to Vista because of the rumors surrounding it, but with Windows 7 I think they'll finally take the leap."

Brian Corn, director of marketing for system builder Source Code, Norwood, Mass., says past Windows releases have led to a spike in PC sales, so there's no reason to believe the same won't hold true with Windows 7. Corn also believes that Vista was the victim of unfounded criticism.

"Windows 7 is very much like Vista, but that's a good thing," Corn said. "There was a bias against Vista among those users who'd never seen it or tried it, but I don't expect that to happen with Windows 7."

Perhaps the most intriguing bit of data from the survey is that 50 percent of respondents have toyed with the idea of moving from Windows to another operating system, with 27 percent indicating they've thought about moving to Mac OS.