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Enterprise interest in Windows 8 half that for Windows 7 in '09

November 16, 2012 02:50 PM ET

If there's a silver lining in the Windows 8 cloud, Johnson said, it's the interest of business workers in the new OS on tablets.

Twenty percent of nearly 10,000 recently-surveyed workers said that they would prefer Windows 8 on their next touch-enabled tablet; 26% picked iOS, while 11% named Android.

Johnson pegged Office as a big reason for that Windows 8 enthusiasm, whether the full suite on Windows 8 touch devices or the scaled-down version, dubbed Office RT, on Windows RT-powered hardware like Microsoft's own Surface RT tablet.

The enthusiasm for Windows 8 from employees, said Johnson, will push corporate IT departments to set support policies for Windows 8, and accelerate BYOD (bring your own device) demand.

Even so, that's not a slam dunk. "If Windows 8 is going to be consumerized, the problem is that most companies don't yet have BYOD policies," Johnson said.

Enterprise hesitancy, even though it has to have been anticipated by Microsoft, puts its bet on the new OS in jeopardy. When CEO Steve Ballmer has tried to rally developers to Windows 8 and its new app model, he has maintained that the millions of Windows 7 PCs represent a pool of potential customers that developers cannot ignore.

If those Windows 7 machines are not upgraded to Windows 8, Ballmer's argument fails.

Nor has Windows 8 met the company's own internal goals, Johnson maintained, echoing others who have said the same this week.

"They're below expectations," said Johnson, speaking of initial Windows 8 sales as well as sales of Windows 8 and Windows RT hardware. "Microsoft probably set their goals too high."

The economic climate is also working against Microsoft, as consumers and businesses alike continue to tighten belts. The uncertainty over the so-called "fiscal cliff" that the U.S. government faces is one reason. But there are others, too.

"Companies have been extending their PC refresh cycles from the former three to five years to as much as six or seven," said Johnson. "No one is expecting to spend more money, because although PCs are core to business, they're also overhead. There's concern [among decision makers] that the OS refresh of Windows 8 should be tied to a hardware refresh, but with the Windows 7 migration just finished or still under way, they're not going to be anxious to do another [PC] refresh any time soon."

See more Computerworld Windows 8 launch coverage including news, reviews and blogs.

covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at Twitter @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed Keizer RSS. His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

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