Windows 7: once bitten twice shy?

When Microsoft releases Windows 7 on 22 October, many businesses will have to consider whether to upgrade or not.

While a few businesses upgraded to Window Vista when it launched in early 2007, the majority are running their PCs on the eight-year-old Windows XP operating system.

Most business managers tend to be cautious when it comes to technology; they will probably take a wait-and-see attitude. This is because most of the business owners I’ve spoken to who upgraded to Windows Vista didn’t have anything positive to say. In fact, from a business perspective, the Vista era has been something of a disaster for Microsoft.

“…most of the business owners I’ve spoken to who upgraded to Windows Vista didn’t have anything positive to say”

According to a recent survey by US-based ScriptLogic, many companies are economizing by cutting back on software updates. They say they don’t have the resources to deploy Microsoft’s latest OS.

An alarming 60% of the 1000 companies who responded to the survey, specifically said they planned to skip Windows 7. Of the remainder, 34% said they would deploy it by the end of 2010; only 5.4% said they’d put it in this year.

Anecdotally, I’m finding similar sentiment among Australian business operators. To put that into perspective, a year after the launch of Vista, only 8% of companies had upgraded.

Microsoft will, I think, take a vastly different approach with its launch of the new operating system and this could well change business sentiment.

We are unlikely to see the over-the-top stunts, marketing hype, and midnight store openings that accompanied Vista. Microsoft will spend more time explaining the substance and advantages of the new OS rather than selling sizzle and hype. And I’m guessing Microsoft will offer considerable discounts to multi-seat businesses for a limited time.

From my experience with Windows 7, many users – especially those running Windows XP – will take the leap and upgrade. This may not happen on 22 October; but over the next six months, I think a great many businesses will be impressed with the rock-solid stability, compatibility, and manageability of the new OS.

Microsoft has also replaced the mess of different flavors for Windows Vista with a more understandable pricing strategy. There are simply ‘good, better, best’ versions of the OS. People who want the basics can buy Windows Starter, while companies can buy a version with many networking and security features.

And if you find out you’ve chosen the wrong version for your needs, all Windows 7 PCs will ship with multiple versions of the OS preloaded. You can upgrade in minutes with a credit card, saving you a trip to a retail store or a lengthy download.
From my limited experience, and I’ve only meddled with the tip of the features iceberg, I think business users will find migrating to the new OS painless.

In fact, it could even be something that significantly boosts productivity, operability, and even mobility for many small businesses.

Perhaps the most obvious improvement is that Windows 7 is easier to manage centrally, and this feature alone I believe will drive its adoption in the business environment. Once current business software is made compatible, I think upgrading to the new OS may just prove irresistible for many businesses. #

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