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Study: Businesses start to embrace Windows 7

A new study shows that, far more than with Windows Vista, businesses do plan to adopt Windows 7. A decent number plan to start this year.

A new survey shows that businesses are increasingly planning their move to Windows 7, with more than half of those questioned planning to have some machines running the operating system in their corporations by the end of the year.

The survey, conducted of 923 businesses in January, found that 16 percent are already running some Windows 7, with a further 42 percent planning to start their deployment by the end of 2010.

"It is just very positive about Windows 7," said Dimensional Research analyst Diane Hagglund, the study's author. "They are planning to deploy it. They are planning to deploy it fast."

The enthusiasm not only compares favorably with early response to Vista, but also shows that businesses have become more bullish on Windows 7 than they were as recently as nine months ago.

Windows Vice President Brad Brooks said in a recent interview that he is starting to see signs that small businesses want Windows 7. In particular, Brooks pointed to the fact that electronics retailers are stocking more PCs with the professional version of the operating system as opposed to just carrying computers running the Home Premium edition.

Although many businesses are planning a move to Windows 7, that doesn't mean concerns have evaporated. Some 57 percent of businesses said they have worries, a drop of 10 percentage points from the April 2009 survey. The study was conducted by Hagglund and commissioned by corporate IT systems management firm KACE, which was recently acquired by Dell.

"IT always has concerns about everything and rightly so," Hagglund said. "New technology always brings with it issues."

But Hagglund said that early concerns about the stability, security, and performance of the operating system itself have waned, with most of the remaining issues having to do with external issues, such as application compatibility.

"IT is feeling much more confident that its secure, stable, and that it performs," Hagglund said. "It takes a little while for your applications to get caught up."

Matt Rosoff, an analyst for Directions on Microsoft (as well as a member of the CNET Blog Network) said that the results of the survey make sense.

"I think Windows 7 removes all the objections people have to Vista," he said. At the same time, Rosoff said he doesn't see a rush to Windows 7, just the gradual adoption as new PCs are purchased. But, that is still a big improvement over Windows Vista, where businesses actively downgraded new machines to Windows XP.

As for XP, declining support is starting to creep onto the list of concerns for IT managers. The Dimensional Research study found that businesses are still more worried about the issues around moving to Windows 7 than they are about those surrounding support for Windows XP.

"XP has been really good to IT," Hagglund said.

However, the gap is narrowing, with more businesses this year registering concern about XP.

"Eventually support is going to become an issue for XP," Rosoff said.

Hagglund said, in particular, those businesses that skipped Vista are going to come under pressure to upgrade, adding a pressure to move to Windows 7.

"They've tried Windows 7 and they like it," Hagglund said. "It's just feeling like the best option."