While Microsoft maintains that Windows Vista is the most successful version of its iconic operating system ever, that picture may be dimmed by a new report that found that almost half of corporate IT shops will skip it while waiting for the next major release -- Windows 7.
In an independently-funded survey, long-time industry analyst Laura DiDio found that 46 percent of the 700 IT decision makers she polled intend to wait for Windows 7 before they migrate off of Windows XP.
Analysts have been sounding warnings over slower-than-expected corporate adoption of Vista for at least a year. As a result, Microsoft has quietly acknowledged -- through statements this fall by CEO Steve Ballmer -- that it's okay for customers to wait for Windows 7.
At last report in July, Microsoft said it has sold 180 million Windows licenses since Vista shipped.
However, because many of those licenses are convertible -- the user can choose to deploy either Vista or its predecessor, Windows XP -- it's almost impossible to tell how many copies of Vista have really been deployed so far. If the company has more exact numbers, it isn't sharing them.
The new study, conducted by DiDio and her firm, Information Technology Intelligence Corp., in connection with Sunbelt Software, also reveals more bad news for Vista.
"To date, only 10 percent of the 700 survey respondents have deployed Vista [and] Windows XP is the primary desktop OS for 88 percent of the respondents," DiDio wrote in her report.
DiDio's results are in line with other recent analyst reports. For one, Forrest Research reported last month that, so far, only 8.8 percent of IT shops it's been talking with had deployed Vista to the end of June.
Another interesting result, though, has been that companies that have deployed Vista are overall happy with the system.
"Six out of 10 [Vista] users, nearly 60 percent, rated Vista's performance, reliability and security excellent, very good or good," DiDio said in her e-mail. The biggest complaints were in regard to application compatibility problems.
The continuing popularity of XP, even after most commercial sales have supposed to have ended, caused Microsoft to turn out a third service pack for the seven-year-old system last spring.
"Windows XP has a lot of life left in it and is perfectly fine for most businesses," DiDio's e-mail added.
Also, last spring, Microsoft released SP1 for Vista. On December 1, the company began public beta testing of Vista SP2 which, according to enthusiast site TechArp, is slated for an April release.
In the meantime, Microsoft is currently planning to release the first public copies of Windows 7 in mid-January at a series of developer events around the U.S. About the same time, or soon thereafter, the company is expected to begin broad public beta testing in order to get the final release out next summer in time to make it onto new PCs in time for the crucial holiday sales season.
For the record, Microsoft continues to repeat the mantra that Windows 7 will ship sometime before the third anniversary of the commercial release of Vista -- which was on January 30, 2007. "netbooks" -- extremely low-cost, sub-notebook PCs designed mainly for portability, for use mostly as a light duty Web and e-mail terminal or as a third or fourth PC on a home or small business network.
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