Windows 7 Enterprise Deployments Ready for Take Off?

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Enterprise deployments of Windows 7 may hit a high point over the next six months to a year as the upgrade cycle for aging PCs kicks in along with the arrival of the first Windows 7 service pack, according to a recent poll of IT decision makers.

What may turn out as a surprise for some is that the brief survey, conducted online by research firm Directions on Microsoft, showed that 11 percent of the company's corporate IT clients have already finished upgrading to Windows 7.

Besides those who have already completed their migrations, fully half of those polled said they will start deployments within the next 6 to 12 months, while another 27 percent plan to begin deployments over the next 2 years. Altogether that comes to 88 percent, the survey report said.

Only 4 percent have no plans to upgrade to Windows 7, while 7 percent say they will wait at least 2 years before upgrading.

The survey was conducted while Paul DeGroot, research vice president for channels and licensing, was presenting a webinar for some of the company's customers.

"The focus [of the webinar] was on a discussion of strategies for upgrading to Windows 7," DeGroot told InternetNews.com.

According to the report, the survey was conducted on Sept. 30. Of 186 attendees online for the Webinar, 115 answered the question "When do you plan to start upgrading to Windows 7?"

The job titles of most of the people who attended the Directions On Microsoft webinar indicate PC purchasing authority, DeGroot said. A list of titles provided by the firm included CTO, CEO, vice president of IT, director of IT, worldwide operations manager, chief architect for client services, and corporate software licensing manager, among others.

"It's a pretty good cross-segment of people who will be making these decisions," DeGroot said. Despite the size of the sample, he said the survey results should still be statistically accurate.

Many of the installations of Windows 7 will be new PCs brought in to the corporations to replace aging computers that desperately need replacing.

In fact, some 38 percent said they will bring Windows 7 in house pre-installed on new PCs.

Windows 7 has been available to Microsoft's enterprise customers since early August 2009. It officially shipped to consumers on Oct. 22, 2009.

Microsoft said that by the end of June 2010, the company had already sold 175 million licenses for Windows 7.

Waiting for Windows 7 SP1?

However, in spite of strong encouragement by Microsoft even some research firms, quite a few of the companies that will begin to deploy Windows 7 in the next two years are sticking to the common wisdom that the safe bet is to wait until the first service pack (SP1) is out.

Microsoft has been accumulating bug patches and security fixes for Windows 7 SP1 ever since the original release shipped to volume licensees in early August 2009. In mid-July 2010, Microsoft began beta testing SP1, and said it will make the service pack available in the first half of 2011.

Historically, many IT technology buyers wait until the first service pack is out before deploying a new version of Windows. That appears to be influencing technology decisions this time as well, at least for a good number of IT decision makers.

Degroot expects an uptick in sales of corporate PCs after SP1 is released.

"I think, especially after Service Pack 1 comes out, we could see quite a few new PCs go out the door," said DeGroot.

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

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