by Shane O'Neill

The Windows 7 Adoption Survey Says! Whatever You Want it To Say

Apr 17, 20094 mins
Data Center

All surveys need to be taken with a grain of salt, but after checking out a few professionally conducted and commissioned Windows 7 adoption surveys I can’t tell if the impending OS is doomed or ready to take off like a rocket.

My take from recent surveys: Most testers give a “thumbs up” to the Windows 7 beta, but businesses are in no rush to actually deploy the OS and will stay with XP until they are forced to upgrade, possibly at gun point.

That’s the story (with my writer’s embellishment of course) being framed by the two most recent surveys that the tech media and what ZDNet blogger Ed Bott refers to as the “Internet Echo Chamber” has run with. (Disclaimer: I am not excluding myself as a member of said “echo chamber”).

The first survey that led to some splashy headlines was from research firm ChangeWave. It paints a rosy picture of the Windows 7 beta. Of the survey respondents, 44 percent reported being “very satisfied” with the OS. And to bolster Windows 7 satisfaction, ChangeWave emphasized that a similar survey in Feb. 2007 found that just 10 percent of the respondents expressed the same satisfaction with Vista.

Great news for Microsoft — except that the survey consisted of 68 respondents. Not 368. Not even 168. 68.

I think there have been informal polls taken at bars with more people.

The Windows 7 beta has been largely applauded and many testers are excited about it. But give me more than 68!

The ChangeWave survey goes on to ask convoluted and open-ended questions like “Will your company skip a Vista upgrade altogether to wait for Windows 7, or are you going ahead with a Vista rollout?” Turns out 53 percent will skip Vista altogether. But it neglected to ask how many shops are sticking with XP or how long they will wait until deploying Windows 7. Well, at least this part of the survey included more than 68 people — in fact, it included 2,000 IT people, so it gets points for size.

The next survey that exploded into the Internet Echo Chamber (that term is growing on me) tackles enterprise Windows 7 adoption plans, and this time the news for Microsoft ain’t so rosy. The study, conducted by Dimensional Research and sponsored by systems management appliance company KACE, surveyed over 1,000 respondents and contained more specific questions about upgrade timeframes.

What resulted from the Dimensional survey was some gloomy headlines about slow Windows 7 adoption, at odds with the ChangeWave research from just a week earlier. Dimensional’s research was more warranted though, with a bigger base of respondents (1,142 IT professionals) and more probing questions about upgrade timeframes and concerns about Windows 7.

The gist: A large majority (84 percent) do not plan to upgrade their machines to Windows 7 in the next year. But given that Windows 7 won’t actually be released until probably late September, is this really bad news?

The survey has some other data that Microsoft may find off-putting: 72 percent saying they are more concerned about upgrading to Windows 7 than about staying with the outdated XP; only 17 percent of IT organizations are testing the Windows 7 Beta; 50 percent of respondents are considering moving to alternatives such as Mac OS or Linux.

But depending on how you scrutinize the data, there’s good news within the all this alleged bad news. In a post yesterday, ZDNet blogger Ed Bott does a deep dive into the Dimensional survey and points out that the projected Windows 7 adoption rates are actually quite good, even better than the adoption rates of Windows XP.

He writes: “According to Dimensional Research, more than 80 percent of IT pros plan to move to Windows 7 within 36 months of the survey date (which was in turn about six months earlier than the expected release date of Windows 7 in September of this year). That would be, by historical standards, phenomenal. Breathtaking, in fact.”

Bott then points to another recent survey of 80 IT pros from companies with 1000-plus employees conducted by a technology-focused investment bank.

This survey is all blue skies and sunshine about Windows 7 adoption: 50 percent plan to upgrade to Windows 7 as soon as it is available; 46 percent expect to start the upgrade before the end of 2009, within months of Windows 7’s release; 55 percent of respondents expect to do system-wide upgrades, rather than upgrading as new PCs are purchased.

“That’s astonishing,” writes Bott.

I’ll give him that, but it’s also only 80 people. I’m sure there will be more conflicting Windows 7 adoption studies to come. Is it the next XP or is it Vista Part 2? Depends on which survey you read.

What are your thoughts on the Windows 7 beta, and what is your company’s upgrade plans?

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