Survey: 6 in 10 companies to skip Windows 7

They cite tough economy, compatibility concerns as barriers

Six in 10 companies plan to skip Microsoft's Windows 7, many of them because they've cut budgets and others because of compatibility worries, a survey released today said.

Of the 1,100 IT professionals who responded to a poll conducted by ScriptLogic, a Florida-based developer of Windows network administration software, 59.3 per cent said they have no plans to roll out Windows 7. Slightly more than a third -- 34 per cent -- said they would deploy the new OS next year, while just 5.4 per cent said they would migrate to the Vista successor this year.

Microsoft will publicly launch Windows 7 on Oct. 22, but customers with volume licensing deals -- most medium- and large-sized shops have programs in place -- will likely have access to it long before then. Today, Bill Veghte, Microsoft's senior vice president for Windows business, again promised that Windows 7 will reach "release to manufacturing" (RTM) status "later this month."

Nearly 43 per cent of the IT administrators who said they'd skip Windows 7 cited "lack of time and resources" as the reason, but almost as many -- 39 per cent -- named compatibility concerns as the biggest barrier.

The latter isn't surprising; more businesses run Windows XP that any other flavor of Microsoft's OS. Microsoft acknowledged that customers are nervous about ditching XP when it announced earlier this year that it would offer a free ad-on, "Windows XP Mode," to users running Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate and Enterprise, the top-three editions.

XP Mode creates an XP virtual environment running under Virtual PC, Microsoft's client virtualization technology, and comes with a fully-licensed copy of Windows XP Professional Service Pack 3 (SP3).

Of the 43 per cent who fingered lack of time and resources as the hurdle to Windows 7 deployment, 37 per cent said they had skipped upgrades in the past and/or were delaying purchases to stretch dollars. Almost 34 per cent said they would skip Windows 7 because their companies had cut IT personnel or delayed hiring.

Microsoft has responded to the money issue by cutting the prices of some editions of Windows 7 compared to their Vista siblings, and running a pre-order sale that ended last Saturday. At the company's annual partner conference today, Veghte also promised that Microsoft would offer discounted volume licensing deals starting Sept. 1 that in some cases could cut prices by 35 per cent.

ScriptLogic's survey isn't the first to throw cold water on Windows 7. In April, another poll said that nearly three out of four IT administrators were more concerned about the cost and overhead of migrating to Windows 7 than they were about supporting the aged Windows XP.

Today's poll results can be downloaded from ScriptLogic's site ( download PDF).

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