Laura DiDio over at ITIC partnered with Sunbelt Software to survey 1,600 people to find out what companies were really planning. The results she has captured would suggest an adoption wave for Windows 7 unmatched since Windows 2000 (which was driven by the Y2K problems).
Lets look at some of the survey results and then speculate why the deployment numbers are so incredibly aggressive.
Sample: Equal split between company sizes
This survey is the most comprehensive Ive seen so far and the only one that isnt funded by a vendor (which often makes the results somewhat questionable).
About 30% of respondents had more than 500 employees, about 35% had between 25 and 250 and about 35% had fewer than 25 employees. This gave nearly equal weight between small, medium, and large companies. 15% were enterprises with over 3,000 employees and about half of that had over 10,000 employees, showcasing that very large enterprises were represented in this survey.
Talking to complexity of the organizations 42% had 10 or less servers while only 7.2% had over 1,000, suggesting these companies trended to simple infrastructures.
The less complex the company infrastructure is, the easier it is to do deployments of new technology. And the sample results suggest there is likely a connection between the relative simplicity of the companies sampled and their unusually aggressive plans to deploy Windows 7.
Intention to Buy: Majority Intend to Deploy
Intention to deploy is perhaps one of the least reliable metrics because these decisions tend to depend on future events like marketing programs and incentive packages that have not been introduced.
They can also depend on how well the initial sites go, suggesting the numbers could likely shift either way. Given that early reviews have gone unusually well I would expect these numbers to improve.
The survey results indicate that 24% of the population currently has no plans to deploy, 37% intend to deploy quickly (within a year), and 39% are currently working to develop a deployment schedule. Net that is 76% that are planning to deploy, a vastly larger number than I can recall getting when I did surveys like this.
Specific timing questions had an amazing 17% (likely led by the smallest of firms) planning to deploy within 3 months, 12% (likely still small) in 3 to 6 months, 11% (mid-range) in 6 to 9 months, 8% (still mid range) in 9 to 12 months, and 12% (enterprise) after the first service pack ships.
Overall this is very aggressive and likely speaks both to how well the beta did in test and the age of the existing code and PC hardware base. This suggests we should see records broken in terms of deployments in 2010.
Reason Not to Deploy: Little Apple/Linux Buzz Happy with XP
For those indicating they wouldnt switch:
1.9% indicated they were thinking of moving to something else (this is the IBM Linux/Apple opportunity)
1% will do this when they upgrade their servers (Windows Server 2010)
17% with new hardware (surprised this number is so low given this is the recommended method of doing an upgrade like this)
2.3% because they were on Vista and got burned so dont plan to move
20% are worried about application compatibility (and likely dont know about or trust XP mode in Windows 7)
3.3% want to do network upgrades first
6.3% cant afford to do an upgrade at the moment (a much lower number than expected)
25% are happy on XP and dont want to move
22.5% cant yet justify the cost.
For companies planning on displacing Windows with something else this is very bad news.
The two primary problems with getting people to move are financial and high satisfaction with Windows XP. The economic improvement should help the former, and increased testimonials from Windows 7 users (which based on the beta results from this survey should be very positive) should help with the latter.
Beta Experience: 78% Excellent/Very Good
This was a stunning beta test and showcased what appears to be solid work on Microsofts behalf. A whopping 42% gave the product in beta an excellent ranking; 36% placed it as very good; 13% ranked it as good (good or better over 90%); 8% was satisfactory; 1% poor (betting Apple users),;and .5% completely unsatisfactory (betting Linux users).
Beta products typically dont do this well because the ecosystem is typically not ready until launch. This time, however, much of the ecosystem was up at least in test during the beta cycle leading to a much better result.
This kind of positive buzz coming out of a beta cycle, if coupled with strong marketing, can result in a rapid ramp to market. And were I still doing operating system forecasts I would tend to use information like this to increase what Id already done.
With thanks to Laura DiDio, ITIC, and Sunbelt software for a nicely done survey that, for once, wasnt funded by the primary vendor, I think we can draw some solid conclusions.
If the survey is representative, and surveys like this often arent, this would indicate that Windows 7 deployments will set new records for corporate deployments; that Microsofts focus on quality during the Windows 7 beta was brilliantly done because it was the cause of these results; and that there are a massive number of people who will be glad to say goodbye to Vista. (But Steve Jobs will both remember the product fondly and miss it desperately).
There is no large opportunity to replace Windows yet, 1.9% simply isnt enough to get excited about, and if the economy improves as expected Windows 7 deployments could be both a cause and effect tied to the results.
And thus begins the Windows 7 age.