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Parsing the nuances of Windows 7 decisions

Survey shows that 84 percent of IT pros don't plan to upgrade to Windows 7 in the next year, but it pays to take a closer look at the numbers.

This was originally posted at ZDNet's Between the Lines.

A new survey reveals that 84 percent of IT pros don't have plans to upgrade to Windows 7 in the next year and that half of respondents are considering alternatives. But it pays to parse a few nuances.

The survey, which was conducted by Dimension Research and commissioned by KACE, a systems management appliance company. The survey had 1,142 respondents and 99 percent of them had a Windows operating system installed at their companies.

Dimensional Research/KACE

The spin here has been that it's somehow bad that most IT professionals won't jump to Windows 7 in the next year.

However, Windows 7 is still in beta and hasn't been released yet. Of course, 84 percent won't upgrade to Windows 7 in a 12-month time frame. If you go April to April and Windows 7 is launched in October-ish, that means IT pros would have just six months to make the leap. In the OS upgrade world, that speed just doesn't happen.

Cast in that light, the figures in the pie chart to the right actually look pretty impressive to me.

So within two years, 59 percent of IT pros plan to upgrade to Windows 7. The good news: that's some pent-up demand. The bad news: Vista is the reason there's pent-up demand.

But what really caught my eye is the secondary headline about Windows alternatives.

Dimensional Research/KACE

The headline: 50 percent of IT pros are considering a move from Windows. Operative word: considering. You'd be dumb not to consider a move. In fact, I'd argue that the other half of IT pros aren't doing their job: you should always assess alternatives.

If you break down the 50 percent considering a move away from Windows, 14 percent are actively making a jump. That's up from 11 percent in 2008 and 9 percent in 2007. You can determine whether the money quote here should be:

• 36 percent are staying, i.e,. Microsoft is still winning.
• 14 percent are bolting, i.e., alternative operating systems are gaining steam.

The truth is probably in the middle.

Another nuance to ponder. Apple's OS X is the most likely platform to replace Vista or Windows 7, with 27 percent eyeing the Mac platform. The rub: that percentage is down from 29 percent in 2008.

Perhaps the headline should be that Vista, Windows 7 and OS X are in decline--and that Ubuntu is on the rise.

In any case there's a lot of fun to be had with numbers in this survey.

Dimensional Research/KACE