Windows 7 uptake 'could be hit by economy'

The economic downturn could hinder the adoption of Microsoft Windows 7, despite the general favourable reviews that the new operating system has received.

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The economic downturn could hinder the adoption of Microsoft Windows 7, despite the general favourable reviews that the new operating system has received.

That is the verdict of a number of analysts who said enterprises will probably delay a full upgrade and stick with Windows XP for the time being.

"I think the down economy will hinder just about everything," said David Smith, VP at Gartner.

Windows 7 is expected to be available before the end of the year, or at the very latest, early next year. Unless there is a dramatic economic rebound, all signs point to the economy still squeezing IT budgets at that time.

Tens of thousands of jobs have been cut in the last few months as cost-cutting measures at companies across all business sectors. Not only do those job cuts show that overall budgets are tight, they also mean that companies will probably have a surplus of client PCs that they can reassign to other workers, said Michael Cherry, an analyst with research firm Directions on Microsoft.

"If they're laying off employees, they have more than they need, so they may reallocate those to other employees," he said.

Those machines are probably running XP, because only 9 percent of nearly 1,000 North American and European businesses surveyed in a recent Gartner report said they had upgraded to Vista.

Despite the economy, however, Windows 7 probably won't be as disastrous an OS as Vista was in the business market, analysts and IT professionals said. There are some good reasons to upgrade to Windows 7, even if companies have to scrape the bottom of their budgets to do so.

XP is now eight years old and beginning to show wear and tear, said Andrew Brust, chief of new technology at the IT consulting firm twentysix New York. "It stood the test of time very well, but it is now definitely showing its age," he said.

Even with budgets as tight as they are, companies that can upgrade to Windows 7 should and probably will, because they have waited so long to upgrade, Brust said.

"Many customers probably held off on Vista upgrades, choosing to wait for its successor, so there's real upgrade backlog to tend to," he said.

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