Will Windows 7 be panned by enterprise IT?

Randall C. Kennedy mulls over the most recent survey numbers, which show a tepid response from IT shops

Windows 7 will change the world! It will right the wrongs of Vista in the enterprise space while simultaneously winning over the hearts and minds of consumers and putting Apple in its place once and for all. It truly is the reascendance of Windows as the dominant desktop platform.

Or at least that's how some of my contemporaries have been portraying the slow-motion striptease that is the Windows 7 beta program. With each successive "leaked" build, there has been a corresponding wave of gushing prose, with comments like "blazingly fast" and "so much better than Vista" rolling off the keyboards of amateur beta testers and professional journalists alike.

[ Can your PC run Windows 7? Find out with InfoWorld's free Windows Sentinel performance monitoring tool. | See why InfoWorld's Galen Gruman concludes that moving from Windows XP to desktop Linux would be easier and cheaper for many business than adopting Windows 7. ]

However, if you take a step back and look at the raw data, you'll see that Windows 7 is shaping up to be a lot like Windows Vista, at least in terms of corporate acceptance. For example, a recent survey by systems management tools vendor Kace shows that 84 percent of IT shops have no plans to deploy Windows 7 in the next year.

That number stands in stark contrast against the incessant cheerleading coming from the various media blog-and-pony shows. They would have you believe that the global business community is poised to embrace Windows 7 with open arms. On the contrary, it now seems as if Windows 7 will be greeted with a healthy amount of skepticism, ostensibly due to the not-so-distant Vista debacle.

Even more distressing (to Windows fans, at least) is the number of IT shops that are now seriously considering alternatives to Windows on the desktop. Of the firms surveyed, fully 50 percent say they are evaluating non-Windows options, not a good sign for Microsoft and certainly a fly in the ointment of the hard-core Windows 7 bandwagon crowd.

My advice: Ignore the hype. Perform your own due diligence. As I noted in my "The good, the bad, and the ugly" series, Windows 7 has some good features that deserve a closer look. However, if you do decide to delay your Windows 7 deployment -- whether to maximize your existing XP investment or to give yourself more time to evaluate long-term alternatives -- know that you're in good company.


Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.