Forrester: Windows 7 Enterprise Use Rises as IE Falls

While the onset of long-delayed corporate PC refreshes is a boon to Windows 7, the Internet Explorer browser is being left by the wayside as more business turn to Firefox and Chrome.

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Fri, May 21, 2010

CIO — It's no secret that the past few years have been the era of the frozen IT budget. As the global economy went south in 2008, most enterprises went into belt-tightening mode.

Now a thaw is beginning, according to a new report by research firm Forrester, as tech spending is set to increase and major corporate PC refreshes are scheduled for the next 12 to 18 months that will introduce a new operating system, productivity suite, browser and applications. While this is great news for Windows 7, it opens up a new set of challenges for the Internet Explorer browser.

Forrester anticipates that IT managers will begin major corporate PC refresh cycles by mid-to-late 2010. Enterprise-wide adoption of Windows 7 will likely occur at the same time, according to Forrester, as IT managers develop upgrade strategies, test their applications, and figure out if client virtualization is part of their plans.

The Forrester report emphasizes Windows 7's quick pace of adoption. Released on Oct. 22, 2009, Windows 7 is already powering 7.4 percent of corporate PCs, according to Forrester's analysis of 90,000 PCs across 2,500 different worldwide companies, which is a level Windows Vista did not reach until almost a year after its release.

From Q2 2009 to Q2 2010, Windows 7 usage by 81,000 Forrester enterprise clients jumped from 0 percent to 7.4 percent, while in the same period Windows XP usage dropped by 7 percent to 74.8 percent. Vista usage remained flat at 12.6 percent.

[ For complete coverage on Microsoft's (MSFT) new Windows 7 operating system -- including hands-on reviews, video tutorials and advice on enterprise rollouts -- see CIO.com's Windows 7 Bible. ]

Yet despite rapid enterprise adoption of Windows 7, the Forrester study points out that the consumerization of IT and companies instilling BYOC (bring-your-own computer) programs has generated more interest in Macs within Windows environments. This is typically done through desktop virtualization tools such as Apple's Boot Camp, VMware (VMW) Fusion and Parallels.

Mac OS usage among Forrester enterprise clients grew slightly over the past year, from 3.7 percent to 4.0 percent.

Internet Explorer: Feeling the Heat

With corporate browser usage, Microsoft faces a much bumpier road. Although Microsoft's Internet Explorer is still the leading browser at enterprises with 72.5 percent usage, it had a year-over-year drop of almost 5 percent according to Forrester's data. Mostly this is attributed to businesses that replaced Windows XP systems that had IE6 as the default browser and then chose to use Firefox or Chrome instead of IE8.

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