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Opinion: Windows 7, FUD and slow news days

By j.ello
July 14, 2009 05:08 PM ET

Computerworld -

Did you know that Windows 7 is a flop already? That's the conclusion drawn by "reporters" the world over, interpreting, interpolating and extrapolating magical and mythical information from a survey by ScriptLogic Corp.

Computerworld columnist Jeff Ello
Jeff Ello

Take this question and its results:

Which below represents the most accurate statement about your plans to deploy Windows 7?

We have no current plans to deploy Windows 7: 59.3%

We will likely deploy Windows 7 by the end of 2010: 34.0%

We plan on deploying Windows 7 by the end of 2009: 5.4%

We have already deployed Windows 7: 1.4%

Seems like a reasonable question, but any middle schooler can tell you that eWeek's headline "Microsoft Windows 7 Will be Skipped by 6 in 10 Companies, Says Survey" is at best an illogical conclusion, at worst a flat-out lie, and at minimum poor reporting. Reuters mirrored that headline, while Infopackets went for direct sensationalism with "Win7 Doomed, Says ScriptLogic Survey." Of course, the Mac and Linux Web sites are only too happy to jump on the train. And yes, even Computerworld ran with the headline "Survey: 6 in 10 companies to skip Windows 7."

TopNews said, "60% of companies giving Windows 7 a miss!" If you can't be bothered to do the research, use an exclamation mark!

ChannelRegister even mentioned that "the data runs counter to an apparently emerging industry wisdom that Microsoft's next client will be a relative shoo-in." I'm not sure what that assertion was based on, but I do think that if you find data running contrary to belief, you might examine the data with a little more scrutiny and report it appropriately.

It happens every day in the media, sometimes as part of an honest mistake, but often not. Consider the source credibility for the above stories. A company that is trying to sell a product dedicated to making it easier to deploy Windows 7 commissions a survey that explains how hesitant companies are to deploy Windows 7. But hey, "thar be numbers in them thar PDFs"... so that makes it credible, right? That's roughly what goes into making a headline on a slow news day.

Even worse are the news outlets that pick up an already botched story and simply rewrite it so they can share a bit in the click-fest. Plagiarizing poor reporting really might be the lowest form of life in the news business.

Back to the survey behind all those news stories:

"What is your biggest barrier to deploying Windows 7?"

In the eWeek article, this became, "When asked for their reasons behind non-adoption...." Does the question ask why respondents aren't adopting Windows 7? No. It simply asks what the biggest barrier is  not the same thing. In fact, none of the questions in the survey asked whether the respondents had decided not to adopt Windows 7.

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