Despite the pre-order success on Amazon and the warm reviews by many analysts, Windows 7 may not find many enterprises with open arms. According to a ScriptLogic survey, six of 10 companies do not plan to purchase Microsoft's latest operating system when it becomes available on Oct. 22.
Some are concerned about compatibility issues in the wake of poor experiences with Vista. Others are constrained by budgets.
More than 1,000 IT administrators responded to the ScriptLogic survey that statistically represents the entire IT industry. ScriptLogic is a systems life cycle firm that works with Microsoft Windows-based networks.
"This survey highlights the impact the economy has had on IT, with 35 percent of respondents saying they've saved money by skipping upgrades and delaying purchases," said Nick Cavalancia, vice president of Windows management at ScriptLogic. "This is likely a reason why IT administrators will put off a Windows 7 migration."
A Handful Will Deploy Windows 7
ScriptLogic reports many of the issues that prevented organizations from deploying Windows Vista are still relevant in preparation for Windows 7 migration.
Asked about their plans to deploy Windows 7, nearly 60 percent of the respondents said they have no plans to deploy at this time, 34 percent plan to deploy by the end of 2010, and only 5.4 percent plan to deploy by the end of 2009.
IT administrators cited the biggest barriers to deploying Windows 7 as lack of time and resources (42.4 percent) and application compatibility (38.9 percent), followed by OS deployment/migration (8.8 percent), hardware support (7.6 percent), and migration of user settings (3.2 percent).
"While it is important that our staff have access to the latest operating systems, we won't migrate to Windows 7 until at least the first service pack has been released," said Sean Angus, senior PC LAN tech for Middlesex Hospital in Connecticut. "The IT department must complete thorough testing to ensure that the applications we rely on each day, specifically radiology information systems and financial applications, will be compatible, before deploying any new platforms or software to our 1,500 desktops."
The Economic Wild Card
Are the surveys predicting a hard path for Windows 7 in its early days accurate? Or are the pre-sales on Amazon.com and Office Depot a better indication of what to expect? It's a hard call, according to Michael Cherry, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft.
"On one hand, Microsoft has greatly improved Windows 7 in ways that would be attractive to enterprises. They have added Direct Access, for example, which improves connectivity to systems," Cherry said. "But on the other hand, we are facing an economy where it's not clear that IT is going to upgrade."
As Cherry sees it, the economy is the wild card. Microsoft has done everything it can to improve the perception or remove any barriers to adopting Windows 7, he said. But product perceptions may not be the deciding factor at launch.
"Microsoft is releasing a product into very uncertain economic times. It's going to be really hard," Cherry said. "IT has lots of things they need to do. So prioritizing replacing Windows clients is going to be tricky."