Windows 7 will dominate corporate PC deployments, Forrester says

IT managers are deploying Microsoft’s Windows 7 on 31% of new PCs today, and that number will increase to 83% within one year, according to new research by Forrester Research.

Although Windows XP still powers 75% of companies’ existing PCs, Windows 7 is now on 10% of deployed computers in North America and Europe, up from 1% last year, according to Forrester’s “Updated 2010: Windows 7 Commercial Adoption Outlook,” released Tuesday. 

Windows Vista is in third place among currently installed operating systems, with 7% of corporate PCs, and the rest are divided among Windows 2000, Mac OS and Linux. The numbers are based on responses from 774 PC decision-makers at enterprises and small businesses.

Although some surveys show that businesses want to stick with Windows XP even after Microsoft stops supporting the OS in 2014, Forrester says it has found that nearly 90% of firms will migrate to Windows 7 and nearly 50% will do so within the next year.

“Commercial adoption plans for Windows 7 are aggressive,” Forrester says. “Windows XP continues to impressively maintain its grasp of the commercial PC market over that of its successor, Windows Vista. This makes for a ripe market for Microsoft in which the commercial desktop has stagnated for years.
Users and IT managers are embracing the improved productivity that Windows 7 delivers through federated search, Aero Peek, faster boot times, faster and more reliable sleep states and shut downs, and, coupled with Windows Server 2008 R2, DirectAccess and BranchCache.”

Businesses will also have to upgrade to Windows 7, or at least to Vista in order to take advantage of Internet Explorer 9, which has topped competitors Chrome and Firefox in the latest HTML5 testing.  

Forrester’s findings are in line with another poll recently completed by the analyst firm Directions on Microsoft, which found that more than 10% of enterprises have already completed Windows 7 migrations and most others will at least begin the process in the next 12 months.

The recession caused numerous IT shops to hold off on desktop upgrades, but money is now being freed up for such projects. IT pros dealing with OS upgrades have to contend with application compatibility issues, but new virtualization technologies are helping them prevent potential problems.

However, it could still take several years for companies to complete Windows 7 migrations, even if they start today.

“Because Windows 7 is largely being deployed in line with the natural PC refresh cycle of the business, companywide deployments are taking a number of years for most organizations,” Forrester says. “In fact, 40% reported that they’ll simply upgrade users as their PCs naturally reach end of life — often at a rate of approximately one-third of laptops and one-quarter of desktops annually. However, 39% of firms — an increase of more than 10% from last year’s survey — are planning for an enterprise-wide migration in one effort to avoid having to support a dual OS environment for long.”