Windows 7 enterprise adoption: Closer than you think

A recent survey seems to imply that the vast majority of enterprises won't adopt Windows 7 until 2011. But a close reading of the survey shows that's not the case -- in fact, it's false. An analysis of the report shows that enterprises may adopt the new operating system more quickly than people expect.

Dimensional Research conducted a survey of 1,142 IT professionals in March, to find out their attitudes towards adopting Windows 7. The biggest finding: "Eighty three percent do not have plans to upgrade to Windows 7 in the next year."

Web sites and magazines jumped on the survey results to show that Windows 7 is already in trouble, before it has even shipped. For example, here's the headline and deck from InformationWeek:

Windows 7: 83% of Businesses Won't Deploy Next Year

New data shows that the vast majority of corporate IT departments won't touch Microsoft's next OS until at least 2011.

Sounds scary for Microsoft, doesn't it? There's only one problem: That's not what the survey found. Much of the coverage of survey was not merely misleading -- it's been flat-out wrong.

The survey asked IT professionals if they would be adopting Windows 7 some time within a year of when they took the survey, which was in March, 2009. So in fact, what the survey found was that 83% of enterprises don't have plans for adopting Windows 7 before March 2010. There's no mention of 2011 in the report.

The adoption number should surprise no one, given that Windows 7 hasn't even shipped yet, and no one is sure of the ship date. Microsoft has previously given a ship date of January, 2010. Given that, who would expect a large number of enterprises to adopt Windows 7 within two or three months of the promised ship date?

It's true that Windows 7 may well ship before January, 2010, but given the uncertainty of a ship date, it's no surprise that IT folks aren't willing to commit to adopting it within a year of when they're asked the question.

In addition, IT pros rarely will commit to adopting an operating system before they've even seen the final version. At this point, all they have to see is beta. So the 83% number is no surprise.

In fact, what surprises me more is that 17% have said they'll adopt Windows 7 by March, 2010, given the uncertainty of the ship date, and having only a beta operating system to review.

Another of the report's findings is that the general state of the economy was one of the reasons holding back Windows 7 adoption -- 43% of people who said they wouldn't adopt Windows 7 by March, 2010 said it was because of the poor economy. That implies that if the economy picks up, they may adopt it sooner.

The report also shows that 42% of respondents expect to adopt Windows 7 within 12 to 24 months of the time of the survey, which would mean by March 2011. Combine that number with the 17% who expect to adopt it by March 2010, and you have 59% of enterprises adopting Windows 7 by early 2011. That's actually pretty impressive.

Coverage of the report has been so poor that it brings the old saying to mind: There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.

Windows 7

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  • Microsoft leaks Windows 7 RC delivery date
  • Review: Windows 7 Beta 1 shows off new taskbar, more UI goodies
  • Windows 7 tips, tricks and tweaks
  • Preston Gralla: Windows 7 enterprise adoption is closer than you think
  • Poll reveals user love for Windows 7
  • 10 things Windows 7 must do to succeed
  • Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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