According to a ScriptLogic study, 60 percent of all companies surveyed said that they will not be moving to Windows 7 any time soon. Thirty-four percent said they'd probably deploy by the end of 2010, but even that number may be optimistic. This means that by 2011, for the first time ever, a 10-year-old operating system will still be the most-used desktop OS.
Of course, Microsoft's licensing means that this unfortunate fact won't cut too deeply into the company's bottom line. While Microsoft's OS market may be stagnating, hardware is hardware, and it will fail and need replacing. That's when they'll manage to sell you yet another license that can be downgraded to XP.
[ Randall C. Kennedy says Windows 7 is shaping up quite nicely. | Preparing for Windows 7? Get the overview you need in the Windows 7 PDF Report from InfoWorld's J. Peter Bruzzese. | Can your PCs run Windows 7? Find out with the compatibility checker in InfoWorld's free Windows Sentinel monitoring tool. ]
As the recent support extension for XP shows, Microsoft does see that users aren't falling all over themselves to upgrade to Windows 7, just as they weren't for Vista. The fact that many seem to hail Windows 7 as a far better OS than Vista doesn't really make a difference -- the real problem isn't that Vista or Windows 7 aren't ready for the enterprise, it's that for the vast majority of business cases, Microsoft XP with Microsoft Office 2000 is all that's necessary -- possibly for quite some time.
After all, why do you think that Office 2007 had a massive UI change? Because that was one of the only ways to differentiate it from Office 2003. The back-end stuff, like support for the OpenDocument Format, could have been added to Office 2003 as it was to Office 2007. Office 2007 was basically a "New and improved!" sticker on Office 2003.
As far as business desktop computing goes, that's a novel idea. For the past 15 years, companies have been upgrading constantly, moving from Windows NT 4 to Windows Server 2000 to Windows Server 2003 or, on the desktop, from Windows 95 to 98 to 2000 to XP. And that's where they sit.