Latest survey numbers bode poorly for Windows 7, Linux

Despite all the Windows 7 hype and fanfare, XP isn't going anywhere anytime soon

I love surveys. The idea of getting the straight skinny, directly from the masses, always smell of authenticity to me. Forget the Gartner predictions or the Forrester "we sell whitepapers" prognostications. When I want to know what's really going on in the world of IT, I commission a 10,000-user survey to get my answers.

Or at least I would if I had a staff. Or contacts. Or even a mailing list. Fortunately, the good folks over at Tech Republic were nice enough to put together exactly what I was looking for: lots of raw numbers describing IT's real-world adoption plans for various Windows versions. And true to form, the results they got back are once again poised to upset the apple cart.

[ A year after Microsoft killed XP, about half of all monitored new, Vista-equipped business PCs have been "downgraded" to run XP. | See if your PC can run Windows 7 with our free Windows Sentinel tool. ]

For example, despite Microsoft's claims of "success" with Vista in the enterprise, fully 96 percent of the survey's 10,000 respondents claim that their organizations are still running Windows XP as their primary desktop OS. Furthermore, nearly half (49 percent) plan to either stick with XP indefinitely or switch away from Windows altogether -- to Linux, Mac OS X, and so on.

These numbers jibe with the exo.repository data collected from our own community of 17,000 Windows Sentinel, PC Advisor Performance Monitor, and xpnet.com users. Among business customers, as many as 50 percent of registered systems show signs of having been downgraded from Vista to Windows XP. And with more than half (52 percent) of respondents to the Tech Republic survey stating that they will only migrate from XP when they "absolutely have to, no matter how far out into the future that may be," these numbers do not bode well for Vista's successor, Windows 7.

Of course, if there's a silver lining in all of this data, it has to be this other number -- taken from StatCounter -- that shows the Windows 7 beta rapidly overtaking Linux in terms of overall desktop OS share. In other words, though Microsoft may not be able to dislodge its own legacy product from the PC desktop throne, it can at least point to this Pyrrhic victory against its archenemy the FOSS community as a bright spot in an otherwise dismal forecast.

As a side note: How embarrassing must it be for the Linux desktop crowd to see their pride and joy overtaken by a piece of prerelease software? It's bad enough that the name "Ubuntu" has been turned into the punch line in a Mike Judge animated series. But to be beaten by a beta? After nearly a decade of vocal advocacy? That's just sad.

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