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Windows 7 Business Upgrades Ready for Take Off

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Windows 7 has so far been “far from overwhelming” in gaining adoption among both enterprises and small and medium businesses (SMB), according to a new survey, but now it is poised for a surge in deployments.

Forrester Research(NASDAQ: FORR) found, in a recent survey of nearly 800 PC decision makers in enterprises and SMBs in North America and Europe, that 10 percent of PCs in businesses are running Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) Windows 7 today. That’s up from just 1 percent a year ago.

In fact, the survey found that 46 percent either have specific plans to deploy Windows 7 in the next 12 months, or have already begun their migrations.

However, among the same group of PC decision makers, Windows XP still occupies pride of place on 75 percent of the machines in businesses, the survey found. That’s becoming a problem for managers who put off refreshes of PCs and laptops by a year or more when the recession hit.

Now, PC staffers are not only maintaining older, slower PCs with a concomitant loss of productivity, they are also running out of options when it comes to XP itself. All releases of XP except for Service Pack 3 (SP3) have fallen out of what Microsoft calls “extended support” and no longer receive any support at all. All support for SP3, meanwhile, is scheduled to end in April 2014. After that, IT departments are on their own.

The combination of aging hardware and software constitutes — no real surprise — what Forrester’s report says is a dam that’s already begun to give way.

“Last year when we fielded a similar survey, only 7 percent of firms said they planned to deploy Windows 7 within the next 12 months, or that they had already begun. This number has skyrocketed to 46 percent,” the report, which was primarily authored by analysts Benjamin Gray and Christian Kane, said.

“Add in the 42 percent of firms that have plans to deploy Windows 7 in more than 12 months and we’re left with just 10 percent of organizations that haven’t yet looked into Windows 7 thoroughly,” the report continued.

Meanwhile, 31 percent of the new PCs and laptops purchased by businesses have begun being deployed with Windows 7, a number that will swell to 83 percent within the next year.

Forrester’s conclusions are reinforced by the results of other recent surveys as well as sales data.

In late October, a year after Windows 7’s consumer launch, Microsoft announced it had sold more than 240 million licensesto the operating system so far. While the majority of those were consumer purchases pre-installed on new PCs, many have started flowing into businesses as well.

Further, a survey of nearly a thousand PC decision makers fielded by Dimensional Researchin September found that 6 percent were already done rolling out Windows 7. An additional 38 percent said they have accomplished a partial rollout.

Last week, Microsoft put its money where its mouth is when it credited yet another record fiscal quarterat least partly to robust sales of the OS.

Forrester’s survey also found PC decision makers to be of two minds on at least two issues.

First, 40 percent said they would only install Windows 7 on new PCs as they are deployed while 39 percent said they would update all or most existing PCs to Windows 7 in a single effort, the report said.

Second, PC decision makers were split as to whether they would upgrade individuals who specifically request it outside of planned upgrade campaigns. For instance, 47 percent said they would accede to such requests, while 43 percent will not.

The Windows 7 adoption survey was part of a larger study called Forrester’s Forrsights for Business Technology, which was conducted by LinkedIn Research Networkfrom June 2010 to August 2010.

The report is titled “Updated 2010: Windows 7 Commercial Adoption Outlook.”

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.

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