Enterprises pass on IE7, Windows Vista, Forrester says

Microsoft hasn't pried IE6, Windows XP from business users' hands

Microsoft Corp. is having problems getting enterprises to give up Internet Explorer 6 and Windows XP for the new IE7 browser and Vista operating system, according to surveys of more then 50,000 corporate users conducted throughout 2007.

Both IE6 and Windows XP are entrenched and show little signs of weakening their lock on businesses, said Reedwan Iqbal, a researcher at Forrester Research Inc. "A lot of critical enterprise applications are still not compatible with IE7," Iqbal said today, explaining one reason why corporations have stayed with the older IE6.

Forrester, which conducted monthly surveys of more than 50,000 enterprise users throughout 2007, said that only 30% of corporate Internet Explorer users had switched to IE7 by year's end. "Even with Microsoft spoon-feeding users high-priority automatic updates, enterprise apathy is proving extremely difficult to overcome," said the report, which was published last Thursday.

Microsoft released IE7 in October 2006 and started pushing it to users via Automatic Updates in early December of that year.

In January 2007, the split among IE users in enterprises was approximately 90-10 in favor of IE6; by year's end, it had shifted, but only to 70-30. And now, with a beta of IE8 available, there may be little motivation for companies that haven't jumped to the next browser to bother.

"IE8 will be backward-compatible with IE7, and it will be more standards-compliant, which is what Web developers have been asking for," Iqbal said. In fact, Forrester suggested that businesses without an IE6-to-IE7 migration plan already in place should consider rolling out IE8 when it is finalized.

Microsoft unveiled IE8 Beta 1 earlier this month, calling the build suitable for developers but making it available to anyone via download.

"IE7 was a bit of a botched job by Microsoft," Iqbal said. "It was trying to catch up to what [Microsoft] saw Mozilla doing, but they rushed things. It has tabs, a bit of candy, but nothing substantial."

The story's much the same for Windows XP and Windows Vista, Forrester's numbers showed, although Microsoft has had even less success in weaning enterprise users from the older operating system than it has in getting them to update their browsers.

"If you look at the trend, the uptake for Vista is really low," Iqbal said. "Windows XP is not budging at all."

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