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Microsoft Study: Windows 7 Pays Off in a Year

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Windows 7 has had a positive impact on consumer sales of Windows and new PCs in its first four months of availability, but many users may have forgotten that the new operating system was released to corporate customers last summer.

The final Windows 7 code was first released to corporate customers in Augustand some began piloting deployments at that time.

Now, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) is touting a study it commissioned from IT research firm Forrester Researchthat began last August and purports to show that deploying Windows 7 in a corporate setting can pay off in as few as 13 months.

To make those deployments less painful, Microsoft also announced it is releasing an update to its Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack, or MDOP, that adds support for Windows 7 Application Virtualization, or App-V 4.6.

“Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.6 … is now publicly available as part of MDOP 2010,” said a post to The Official MDOP Blog.

In addition, MDOP also adds Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V) support for Windows 7, the blog post said. MED-V 1.0 service pack 1 is still in release candidate stage but is on target to be released to manufacturing in April. It will come with MDOP at that time.

“The App-V support for Office 2010 means customers can do a one-touch deployment and do not have to wait for Office 2010 to deploy Windows 7,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement.

Besides updated tools, Microsoft is talking up the financial benefits to corporate customers of moving to Windows 7 sooner rather than later. That’s where the latest Forrester studycomes in.

“To understand the financial impact of deploying Windows 7, Forrester conducted in-depth interviews with 12 Microsoft customers that have deployed the product and compiled their results into a composite case study of a professional services organization with 5,000 employees and $1 billion in annual revenue,” the study’s executive summary said.

This is not the first time recently that Microsoft has touted a Forrester study as a good reason for corporate customers to begin Windows 7 deployments soon. An earlier study touting improved total cost of ownership (TCO)came out in mid-September, about a month after Windows 7 was released to manufacturing.

The earlier study found that “direct cost savings” in IT labor costs involving management of PCs were in the range of $89 to $160 per PC, a savings of 10 to 20 percent.

Forrester’s return on investment (ROI) calculations for the new study provide reinforcement to the earlier report.

“The risk-adjusted ROI for the composite company is 129 percent, with a breakeven point of approximately thirteen months after deployment,” the study said.

Windows 7 enterprise deployments ramping up?

Microsoft may have good timing, both for the updated MDOP as well as the new adoption study. Some analysts have been predicting that corporate deployments of Windows 7 may start in earnest as soon as the end of the second calendar quarter of 2010.

For instance, in mid-October, Jefferies & Companyanalyst Katherine Egbert forecast that large-scale corporate deployments of Windows 7 could kick off as early as June.

That may be helped by the fact that a large number of PCs already in place at large companies are equipped to run Windows 7 without upgrades.

A study released in mid-October by IT consulting firm Softchoicefound that 88 percent of PCs in corporate accounts already meet Windows 7’s minimum requirements.

All of that is in contrast to Windows Vista, which never really caught on with corporate customers, ultimately leading to as many as 83 percent of enterprises choosing to skip Vistaaltogether and move wholesale to Windows 7.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

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