IT gives Windows 7 the green light

After taking a pass on Vista, organizations are ready to commit to Microsoft's new OS

Jim Thomas said no to Windows Vista — but Windows 7 is an entirely different matter.

Thomas, CIO at Pella Corp., says his IT team began beta testing Vista's successor a year ago as an upgrade path from Windows XP. By October, just two months after Windows 7 launched, the Pella, Iowa-based window and door manufacturer had 225 Windows 7 clients up and running — and the feedback from both IT staff and end users has been generally positive.

Pella is ready to move forward, Thomas says. "We will have 50% of our users -- that's 2,500 machines -- deployed on Windows 7 in 2010," he says. By the end of next year he expects to have 90% of the business on the new operating system.

This time, IT organizations say, it looks like Microsoft has finally delivered the goods. And just in time. About 80% of IT organizations didn't move forward with Vista, according to Gartner Inc. Instead, the vast majority of enterprise users remain on Windows XP, an outdated, eight-and-a-half-year-old operating system that should have passed into the high-tech fossil record long ago.

Computerworld surveyed 285 IT professionals to gauge their attitudes and intentions with regard to Windows 7. Overall, 72% said they plan to migrate to Windows 7, with 70% saying they will implement it within a year or that they already are installing the new operating system.

The No. 1 reason cited for upgrading: to get off the aging Windows XP platform. That said, however, almost 40% of survey respondents will take XP support to the end — April 2014 — before they install Windows 7 on all their Windows machines.

Which version of Windows is currently running in your IT operation?

[Check all that apply]

Windows XP - 93%
Windows Vista - 35%
Windows 2000 - 15%
Windows 98 - 3%
Windows 95 - 2%

Source: Computerworld online survey; 205 respondents

Those willing to wait that long, however, are in the minority. "We're ready to move on," says Paul Shane, IT director of the Philadelphia office of Milliman Inc., an actuarial consulting firm based in Seattle. He avoided Vista, which he says was initially problematic, clumsy, buggy and continues to suffer from slow performance. But he expects to have most of his 150 desktops and laptops upgraded to Windows 7 by the end of this year. Disappointed with Vista, Shane briefly considered the Mac and OS X platforms. Now, he says, "we've cast those aside."

Like Thomas, he's not even waiting for the first service pack, which Gartner analyst Michael Silver says customers can expect sometime this summer. (Microsoft had no comment on the availability of SP1.)

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