Apple has a chance to grow as half a billion Windows 7 PCs hit EOL

Apple could reap a good harvest as Microsoft ends support for nearly half a billion Windows 7 PCs. That support stops on Jan. 14.

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As Microsoft pulls support for nearly half a billion Windows 7 PCs, it’s make or break for Windows-based IT. And Apple has a chance to reap a good harvest when support ends Jan. 14.

The great migration

Apple’s solutions are now in use across the entire Fortune 500 and the company’s enterprise credentials continue to extend. At a recent Apple-focused enterprise IT event, we encountered opinion and statistics to reinforce this fact.

In fact, support for Apple technologies has become a human resources issue, and people entering the workplace will choose to use the company’s technologies – if they can. This has prompted some of the world’s most influential enterprise firms to offer that choice to their employees.

Beyond HR considerations, IBM CIO Fletcher Previn points out multiple advantages Cupertino’s computers offer, not least in terms of net promoter score, user experience and the actual costs of management, upgrade and support.

“Now, I don’t know if better employees want Macs, or giving Macs to employees makes them better. You got to be careful about cause and effect — but there seems to be a lot of corroborating evidence that says you want to have a choice programme,” he said in November '19.

The real enterprise IT

The positive upswell in support for Apple’s systems comes as around 417 million  Windows 7 devices (a big chunk of all Windows PCs currently in use worldwide) are about to see Microsoft terminate support on Jan. 14.

It’s a relatively safe assumption to think that at least some tens of thousands of these PCs could now be replaced by an iPad, or even a Mac. Why wouldn’t some of these migrate to Apple’s platforms, when Microsoft’s fee-based extended support package costs up to $200 per device?

Apple’s Windows 7 replacement pitch

That’s a real opportunity for Apple, and gives the company a really deep chance to use the popularity of iPhones among enterprise users to pitch Mac sales in the new replacement drive.

It might not even need to try too hard to be successful. IBM has previously explained how running Macs is up to $543 per machine cheaper than running a Windows PC.

Add the cost of extended Windows 7 support to the likely cost savings of using a Mac and factor in recruitment and staff retention costs and spice the sum with employee satisfaction, digital transformation and productivity benefits, and Apple has a good story to tell.

And a billion iPhone owners to tell it, too.

It’s not as if the industry can’t see it coming

The analysts at IDC aren’t known to be Apple evangelists, but even they tell us enterprise IT decision makers expect to replace 13% of their current Windows 7 machines with Macs.

Now, 13% of all the Windows 7 devices out there equates to tens of millions of additional Mac sales in the coming 12 to 24 months, though the number of those systems deployed across the enterprise is likely considerably smaller.

All the same, it’s hard to ignore the potential for millions of additional Mac sales. And those sales could snowball, particularly now that Apple’s fixed the butterfly keyboard on its latest MacBook Pro and returned to pressing for high user satisfaction levels.

Recent financial data suggests Apple is indeed experiencing such a Mac renaissance;  2019 saw what Apple CEO Tim Cook described as the, “highest annual revenue ever from our Mac business.”

Mac sales revenues climbed 2% across 2019, despite PC market stagnation. So it’s a fairly good bet that more enterprise IT decision makers than ever are at least now considering offering Mac choice programs as they move to upgrade existing Windows 7 installations.

Analysts will be (or should be) asking questions about Mac sales during Apple’s Jan. 28 financial call to build some sense of how Apple is performing in the Windows replacement curve.

Up next

I think it’s fair to assume that many of these Windows 7 machines will be replaced by Apple, but that replacement may achieve something even more profound.

Think back to the moment in 2003 when Steve Jobs announced “Hell had frozen over” and introduced Windows support to iPods. The already popular device was selling hundreds of thousands at that time; the introduction of Windows support pushed that number to tens of millions within months.

Those happy iPod owners helped juice higher Mac sales, while also setting the scene for the release of the iPhone, which (arguably, depending on who you speak to) now dominates the mobile enterprise.

With half a billion Windows PCs to replace, how many Macs does Apple have to sell through for the industry to declare the platform a success? At what point will we see a "Mac halo" emerge?

After all, as people use and share the benefits of the Macs they just got upgraded to, what chance is there that we’ll see a more profound move to replace PCs outside of Apple's traditional markets? Perhaps there’s even an opening for a high-end Mac for the games market?

It's something to play for with a third of the existing Windows market on the gaming table.

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Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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