Live long and prosper, Windows 7

Live long and prosper, Windows 7

Summary: Will businesses adopt Windows 8? Or will Microsoft's next-generation operating system be ignored? History suggests that Windows 7 will continue to dominate the business segment for years after Windows 8 is released.


Will businesses adopt Windows 8? Or will Microsoft's next-generation operating system be ignored?

There's no easy answer to that question, and I expect to see lots of analysts get it wrong over the next year or two as Windows 8 completes its development cycle and rolls out into the marketplace.

But history suggests that Windows 7 will continue to dominate the business segment for years after Windows 8 is released. To understand why, you have to look at how Microsoft's enterprise customers make technology adoption decisions.

Consumers tend to buy a new operating system with a new PC and then deal with compatibility issues. Businesses, on the other hand, have to exhaustively test line-of-business applications to ensure that they are compatible with a new operating system; they also have to factor in training and support costs that go hand in hand with the rollout of a new OS.

If you have tens or hundreds of thousands of users, deploying a new OS is an expensive and complicated proposition, and it isn't done without extensive preparation.

Over the past two years, businesses that use Windows as their primary desktop OS have been testing, remediating, piloting, and deploying Windows 7. There's a certain urgency to that process, as extended support for the widely used Windows XP is due to end in April 2014.

Will those same businesses then turn around and begin planning deployments of Windows 8? Highly unlikely, given the sales and support lifecycle for Windows 7. In fact, Microsoft encourages its business customers to take a long-term view with this sort of deployment, offering a full 10 years of extended support for business editions of Windows.

In addition, Microsoft has a sales cycle that makes it relatively easy for enterprise customers to stick with a previous version for several years after its successor is released.

Microsoft has previously announced how its sales lifecycle works:

In the interest of providing more consistency and predictability with how we manage the Windows lifecycle, we are confirming our current policy of allowing retailers to sell the boxed version of the previous OS for up to 1 year after release of a new OS, and that OEMs can sell PCs with the previous OS pre-loaded for up to 2 years after, the launch date of the new OS.

I confirmed with a Microsoft spokesperson that this policy remains unchanged.

Here are the relevant dates for the Windows 7 sales and support lifecycle. I'm assuming that Windows 8 will be released in September 2012. If that date changes, you'll need to adjust the end dates for retail and OEM sales accordingly.

As you can see, the business editions of Windows 7 will be fully supported by Microsoft until the end of this decade. And there's also the sales lifecycle, which works on a different calendar.

For consumers, it will become increasingly difficult to buy a new PC with Windows 7 preinstalled a year or two after Windows 8 is released. For business customers, it's somewhat easier, as OEMs are allowed to offer downgrade rights with business editions of Windows for up to two years.

But for enterprise customers who purchase volume license agreements, that's a non-issue. Those license agreements allow enterprise customers to buy a new PC from an OEM with a Windows 8 license and then reimage it with their tested and preferred OS. For the next several years, that's likely to be Windows 7.

Is Microsoft OK with that outcome? Absolutely. In fact, a senior Microsoft executive told me last week that the company believes "enterprise customers will fully deploy Windows 7 today and use Windows 8 for certain scenarios." They're far more interested in moving businesses off of Windows XP and onto modern, supported Windows versions.

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Topics: Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

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  • Master Joe Says...One Thing

    The one thing I think could drive enterprise adoption of Windows 8 is unification. The same OS on a desktop, tablet, and smartphone means that users only have to learn a single UI, and that applications which work on one can work on all. Take a nurse in a hospital, for example. With Windows 8, she can be working on her desktop at the nursing station, only to, potentially, sync with a Windows 8-powered tablet, and pick up the same application, at the same place in that application, to go take care of the patient for which the application provides the data and keeps records. Now, from a smartphone perspective, Windows 8 wouldn't be as useful in applications like this, but it woudl still be great for checking corporate e-mail, as well as being used as a method of contact, much like the smartphones of today. I might be off on this, and I'll be the first to admit that's possible. But, I could easily see Windows 8 being a player in the enterprise, as well as in traditionally non-technical places.

    --Master Joe
    • RE: Live long and prosper, Windows 7

      @MasterJoe They will bet on Cloud computing... to sync all your devices...
      • RE: Live long and prosper, Windows 7

        Cloud is a failure and hopefully will be a thing of the past in 2-3 years. Businesses have already found out what a bad idea the cloud really is as it fails daily.
    • RE: Live long and prosper, Windows 7

      @Master Joe
      Just like Apple is moving all thier platforms into a single ios.
      Which hackers will love. Now they just have to hack one os and then will have all equipment running said os. be it (i)phone, (i) tablet device or personal computer
    • RE: Live long and prosper, Windows 7

      The problem is..unification or the one ui OS is a fail. One size os does not fit all and being a windows 8 developer user I have to say if metro, ribbons, and start button removal stay as is in windows 8 almost no one will go to it. I am alreqady seeing so much hate and negative feeling for windows 8 especially the metro tile ui i see no way for microsoft to release this as it had intended. They either have add a ui option to allow users to install a prefered ui choice upon setup ie ask if you want an xp look, vista, 7, or metro ui or they must scrap the entire windows 8 concept and idea as it is so far from what makes windows long time customer base love windows it will look at vista as a hiccup of failure in comparison. As is the windows 8 developers peek is not even usable as a full pc os. It just doesn't work and is formed more for tablet use and has no real connection to the reality of keyboard and mouse usage. I loe the idea of thinking cross platform windows compat5ibility but the OS has to be divided into 3 versions that play well . It needs a grown up pc version thats for real work on pcs and laptops, then a more touch friendly app version for tablets, and then a slimmed down customizable phone version. All need to allow the removale of the metro tile ui though as thats the biggest drag as shown by posts and wp7 sales where people dispised the tile look.
      • RE: Live long and prosper, Windows 7

        I agree with you that the preview is not usable, it is there so you can start to think about Win8. It did provide enough usability for me to test our main proprietary apps but I took it off as soon as I was done testing. I expect that the first beta will be good since that is when Win 7 started to work right.
      • RE: Live long and prosper, Windows 7

        Oh, Puleese!! What part of computing did you win your Nobel for???
      • RE: Live long and prosper, Windows 7

        AMEN! One size does not fit all--never has and never will. Trying to make one OS for "circles" and "triangles" just won't work. Unless, of course MS allows one to disable the unwanted user interface via a Control Panel element. So far, no mention of that requirement.
    • RE: Live long and prosper, Windows 7


      Things you use your mobile phone for differ from what you use your desktop for (different screen size, hardware capabilities, expectations etc). So, why should OSes look and feel the same? Plus, uses do not do complicated things with the OS, they do it on the app. So, as long as the UI is intuitive, it should not make a difference. I think Microsoft is unifying the UI just to get people excited and talking and not because it solves a real issue.
    • RE: Live long and prosper, Windows 7

      No way a touch UI for a tablet will be usable on a desktop. Can you imagine reaching out to touch your screen all the time. Makes my arms tired just thinking about it.

      Both Apple and Microsoft should abandon too much unification of tablet and desktop UI's.
    • Dimdows Unification FAIL

      @MasterJoe Microsoft already offered you this "unification" 10 years ago: Windows Mobile phones with a Windows-style Start menu, and tablet PCs running full-featured Windows XP.

      But people didn't want it, because the Windows interface is so awful on anything but a desktop (and not so hot even there).

      The closest thing we have now to a single UI running on different devices would have to be Android. Nothing else seems able to match its market reach.
  • RE: Live long and prosper, Windows 7

    Ya, Windows 8 will follow Vista's path. It's just not worth upgrading and besides tablet interface for desktop? what a joke. Anyways, it's still no where near to OS X
  • RE: Live long and prosper, Windows 7

    The question will be cost savings. If running low powered Windows 8 machines will save $500 a head and at least keep productivity the same (if not make it better) then businesses will adopt. Sure it may take a year or two for businesses to discover that possibility and then act on it, but if Windows 8 can accomplish that then businesses will notice.
    Michael Kelly
    • RE: Live long and prosper, Windows 7

      @Michael Kelly
      Windows 7 runs respectably on fairly old hardware. I doubt "8" will use substantially less hardware power than 7.
      • RE: Live long and prosper, Windows 7

        @WebSiteManager - depending on your definition of "substantial", you're wrong. Win8 uses less disk, IO, CPU and memory. To port Win8 to ARM, MS had to clean up a lot of the OS and kernel. This also benefits the x86 versions since both are compiled from the same source.
      • Windows 8 runs on the same hardware specs

        @WebSiteManager All testing that I've seen has Windows 8 running well on older system. To be fair, Windows 7 runs great on my 2003 Sony desktop with a seriously old embedded video card and 512 megs of memory.
        A Gray
      • RE: Live long and prosper, Windows 7

        The specs for Win8 are lower but the preview stopped installation on a machine here with less than 1GB RAM that does run Win 7. It ran pretty well on a P4 - 1.5 with 1GB RAM, better than XP for sure.
      • RE: Live long and prosper, Windows 7

        @WebSiteManager If it doesn't, it's not going to be a pleasant experience on a smartphone (or iPad-like device), which is what I think Michael was talking about. There may, of course, be a "heavy iron" version and a "lite" version.
      • @WebSiteManager .. au contraire

        .. get a clue before posting. I've used it on an old, decrepit, single-core AMD Athlon 64 3000+, with 1GB of RAM. It functions incredibly well and is also very responsive and memory efficient - moreso than Win 7.<br><br>So please, stop spreading baseless FUD.
    • RE: Live long and prosper, Windows 7

      @Michael Kelly

      So businesses are going to flock to Windows 8 if it will "save $500 a head and at least keep productivity the same"? And just how will it save $500 a head when you have to get an upgrade license for the OS (and possibly for apps)? And are you certain that all the legacy apps that a business needs, mission critical apps, and all other apps will work under Win8? In our enterprise, that alone will "take a year or two". We're still 90%+ Windows XP, and it isn't changing any time soon. Not in this economy.