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Survey: IT Pros 'Cautious' on Move to Windows 7

A survey of IT professionals conducted last month for systems management provider KACE found that a majority (84 percent) of respondents expect that they won't deploy Windows 7 in the next year.

Windows 7 isn't expected to be a final product until some time in 2010, according to Microsoft, although rumors have suggested a release-to-manufacturing date as early as this fall.

KACE's survey tapped the views of 1,142 respondents, with about half (46 percent) describing themselves as "hands-on IT professionals." Almost all of the respondents operated some edition of Windows, but only 17 percent had the current Windows 7 beta installed.

The survey found that 83 percent planned to skip the current flagship Windows Vista operating system and migrate to Windows 7 directly in the next 12 months. That route will be a true time-consuming migration, noted Wynn White, KACE's vice president of marketing, because Microsoft is not providing an upgrade path between Windows XP and Windows 7.

Of those planning to migrate to Windows 7 in the next year, the main reason for the move was to avoid Vista, according to 53 percent of the respondents. Only 10 percent expected to upgrade to Vista first and then move to Windows 7.

"Vista probably continues to haunt Microsoft a bit," White said. "While people are probably favorable to Windows 7 [beta], they are taking a cautious approach to the adoption of Windows 7."

He noted that survey respondents reported application compatibility concerns, as well as economic considerations. However, they understand the work involved when it comes to skipping Vista and migrating directly to Windows 7.

"These are savvy individuals who took this survey," White explained. "They are IT hands-on folks. They understand the implications that going from XP to Windows 7 means a lot more work and a lot more headaches for them. And they are making that choice."

XP, released in October of 2001, is a venerable workhorse and runs in 89 to 90 percent of the workstations assessed by KACE's KBOX device, White noted. Microsoft plans to withdraw free mainstream support for XP on April 14, with paid extended support continuing until April 8, 2014. Still, there seemed to be an overall reluctance to part with XP among respondents. The survey participants who were concerned with maintaining XP (28 percent) were far outnumbered by those concerned with the costs of moving to Windows 7 (72 percent).

In addition, 50 percent of respondents were looking at other operating systems as alternatives to Windows. In particular, the Apple Macintosh OS was considered to be the most likely operating system to be deployed over Vista or Windows 7 by 27 percent. Linux systems were also being considered, with Ubuntu experiencing a "surge" of interest this year, White said.

Most of the respondents did not have a tool to automate OS migrations, according to the survey. The Web-based survey was sponsored by KACE, which makes systems management appliances that enable such OS migrations.

The survey is available on KACE's Web site here (registration required).

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor, Enterprise Group, at 1105 Media Inc.

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