Dell Study Reveals Windows 7 Uptick Among IT Professionals

Dell Computer Inc. said that a global study on corporate adoption of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system it recently conducted with Kace, a maker of systems management appliances it acquired in early February, revealed that 87 percent of IT professionals surveyed plan to deploy the Windows 7 operating system.

This past January, some 923 IT professionals in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific, including managers and executives from a wide range of companies and industry verticals, participated in the Web-based survey, similar versions of which previously have been conducted by Kace in each of the past three years.

Dell suggested that the study yielded a great deal of pro-Windows sentiment, much of which significantly departed from last year's results.

For example, nearly half of the study's respondents intend to implement Windows 7 even before Microsoft releases Service Pack 1, slated for sometime this summer. Moreover, the number of IT professionals considering alternatives to Windows decreased from 50 percent down to 32 percent, the first such decline in the study's history.

Survey results showed a significant uptick from the April 2009 study, in which a majority of IT professionals, pointing to high costs associated with software compatibility and migration, said that they had no plans to upgrade existing systems to Windows 7 in the coming year.

However, this year's study indicated an "increased confidence in [Windows 7] performance, security and stability" prompting adjustments in the participants' opinions, Dell said.

"These results reinforce what we are hearing from the customers we talk to everyday," said Rob Meinhardt, Dell Kace president.

In other key survey findings, only 25 percent of survey respondents expressed concerns about Windows 7 performance, a noteworthy recovery from the 47 percent of last year's study.

One persistent counter point to full scale Windows 7 adoption still prevalent among IT professionals is a concern over software compatibility, a factor pointed to by 86 percent of participants.

But, right now, based on this study, upward software compatibility doesn't appear to be a major stumbling block in Windows 7's path.

Indeed, Windows 7 adoption driven by XP's stuttering to end-of-life may override other migration concerns such as software compatibility.

Diane Hagglund, the study's author and a senior research analyst at Dimensional Research, the Sunnyvale, CA-based firm administering the survey, said that the data showed Windows 7 adoption was being driven by the XP operating system at end-of-life.

"As Windows XP becomes out of date and more expensive to support and with Vista increasingly insignificant, IT leaders are embracing Windows 7," Hagglund said.

Meinhardt said that the data clearly showed that Windows 7 is poised to take off.

"What a difference a year makes," said Meinhardt. "Windows 7 is looking like it will be the biggest inflection point in Windows OS adoption since XP," he said.

Meinhardt said that cost factors associated with migrating from XP to Windows 7 will be a factor in the adoption rate.

"Because there isn't a direct upgrade path from XP, migrating to Windows 7 could be challenging and costly for many organizations," he said.

The Kace appliance, through on-site and remote provisioning tools, is designed to help IT administrators ease the migration path to Windows 7. The fact that only 27 percent of IT professionals in the study have such tools in place leads Dell Kace to believe that an open market opportunity exists.

"From a business continuity standpoint, customer just can't afford not to get the support they need, and that is where we can help," Meinhardt said.

The full report, entitled "Windows 7 Adoption: A Survey of Technology Professionals," is available free of charge at Kace's website, www.kace.com.

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