Many large companies may be willing to endure the pain of upgrading to Windows 98 to solve problems in current operating systems, analysts say.
According to Giga Information Group, several large companies, including American Airlines, plan to update thousands of corporate PCs to Windows 98 because the OS is seen as a worthwhile maintenance update that's less disruptive and costly than the corporate Windows NT 4. And, unlike the next-generation NT 5, it's here today.
"Corporations need to stabilize their base before the year 2000," said Rob Enderle, an analyst with Giga. "NT 5 won't be here in time, so they are going to the stable update [in Windows 98]."
American is expected to convert some 30,000 PCs to Windows 98, Enderle said. American representatives were not immediately available for comment.
IBM is also assisting a large unidentified customer in moving 30,000 PCs running Windows 3.1 to Windows 98. That migration will also be accompanied by a massive hardware upgrade.
Why take the gamble on the new OS? The common wisdom appears to be that Windows 98 corrects current problems with Windows 95 and Windows 3.1, and adds the latest hardware drivers.
While some companies are willing to spin the roulette wheel with the first release of Windows 98, most should wait until the OS becomes more stable, analysts said. Enderle suggests that corporations wait until the first Windows 98 maintenance release debuts, most likely some time this fall, before upgrading older machines.
As for questions about Windows 98's longevity, experts see a corporate lifespan of four to six years.
The predictions for corporate interest in Windows 98 fly in the face of Microsoft's oft-repeated consumer-only forecasts for the OS.
Microsoft executives have been saying for many months that corporate interest in Windows 98 would be low, mostly because Windows NT 5 was just around the corner. But the picture changed recently when NT 5's debut was delayed until next year.