As Windows 7's commercial debut looms, one major IT research firm is recommending that if corporate IT shops aren't already well along in deploying Windows Vista, they'd be better off going straight to Vista's replacement -- Windows 7.
"Organizations with a Windows Vista project well underway should stay the course, but most others should target Windows 7," the new research report co-authored by Gartneranalysts Michael Silver and Stephen Kleynhans says.
The report reinforces another one Gartner released in late March urging corporate IT to begin planning for Windows 7 deploymentas soon as it ships rather than wait for the first service pack before beginning the process.
A recently released survey of 320 network and systems administrators, though, found that quick migration to Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) forthcoming Windows 7 may not be as easy to accomplish as it is to talk about.
The Root of All Deployments
The reason: money, of course.
What the Amplitude study found is that only 23 percent of IT shops surveyed are currently beta testing Windows 7, while about the same number plan to after its official release.
That still leaves 50 percent that have no plans to test Windows 7 at all at this point. The view gets even tougher when the question comes around to those who actually plan to deploy Windows 7 -- 61 percent have no current plans to deploy Windows 7.
Interestingly, those most amenable to moving to Windows 7 are shops whose IT budgets increased in 2009. Of those, 57 percent plan to deploy Windows 7 while, of those whose budgets decreased, only 37 percent had any plans to deploy.
According to the Amplitude Research survey some 41 percent of respondents said their IT budgets declined this year.
"The top two reasons for not deploying Windows 7 were 'Feel more comfortable sticking with current versions of Windows (44 percent)' and 'Can’t justify the return on investment (33.3 percent),'" Amplitude said in a release.
Should I stay or should I go?
Still, there are plenty of variables that have to be taken into account. Nothing is cut and dried, and surveys can yield differing results.
For instance, in a survey of 475 IT firms with 1,000 or more employees, conducted in February and March, and released this week, another Gartner report found only 12 percent indicated they have outright canceled a planned client project since October 2008.
That doesn't mean that some projects haven't been postponed, however.
Next page: What could slow corporate adoption?
Meanwhile, Silver's and Kleynhans' report also outlines other important issues that may slow corporate adoption of Windows 7.
"Between waiting for vendor support and testing, planning, preparing and piloting, few organizations will be able to begin large-scale production deployments until 12 to 18 months after the RTM, in late 2010 or early 2011" their report says. That could mean a late payday for Microsoft.
In fact, that's significantly later than Microsoft is hoping for -- not exactly the picture of explosive enterprise sales right out of the chute, although shops with a preponderance of Windows XP machines may move earlier and thus help fuel early purchase orders.
"With more than half of organizations planning to skip Vista, most organizations will have to move to Windows 7 to maintain a supportable environment as Windows XP ages. We advise organizations to move off of Windows XP by the end of 2012 to avoid application support problems, even though Microsoft will support Windows XP into April 2014."
If it's not one thing, it's another
Silver's and Kleynhans' report highlights some reasons for economic optimism.
"Consumers and small and midsize businesses are more likely to run what ships on new PCs, so they will be early adopters of Windows 7," the report says.
Meantime, another analyst agrees there's a lot of pent up demand among consumers and small businesses, but he cautions that nothing is ever really simple.
"This is a complicated subject because it takes a lot of planning and you're investing in deciding whether or not to roll out an operating system," Michael Cherry, lead analyst for operating systems at Directions on Microsoft, told InternetNews.com.
"Every organization is going to be different … [and it's] a time when businesses are sitting on their wallets," Cherry added.
So what other advice do Silver and Kleynhans have to offer?
"Organizations that have not prepared to deploy Vista [should] skip Vista and target Windows 7," the report says. Their rationale is that preparing to deploy Vista will require the same amount of effort as preparing to deploy Windows 7. Why do it twice?
"At this point, targeting Windows 7 would add less than six months to the schedule and would result in a plan that is more politically palatable, better for users, and results in greater longevity."
However, Silver and Kleynhans also have recommendations for organizations that are already in the midst of deploying Vista.
"Continue with Vista, but plan to switch to Windows 7 in late 2010 or early 2011, especially if you're switching to Vista through a hardware refresh," they said.
Meanwhile, Microsoft officials said this week that public testing of the "Release Candidate" (RC) of Windows 7 has been going so smoothly, they expect the system to be "Released to Manufacturing" (RTM)within the next three months.
In fact, Monday during his opening keynote at Microsoft's TechEd 2009 technical developers conference in Los Angeles, senior vice president of Windows Bill Veghte said that the company is now sure it can deliver Windows 7 in time for the holiday sales season. However, he also added his own advice to the mix.
"If you're just starting your testing of Vista, with the release candidate and the quality of that offering, I would switch over and do your testing on the release candidate, and use that going forward," Veghte said.
Senior editor Andy Patrizio contributed to this report. . Article courtesy of InternetNews.com.