By the end of March 2011, Windows 7 was powering 20.9 percent of corporate PCs, according to a new Forrester Research report, while Windows XP was on 60 percent of business PCs -- down from 69 percent a year ago.
Forrester's report, "Corporate Desktop Operating System And Browser Trends, Q2 2010 To Q2 2011" included results from Forrester's analysis of more than 400,000 client PCs at 2,500 companies. The June 16 report includes 12 months of data collected between the start of the second calendar quarter of 2010 through the end of the first calendar quarter of 2011.
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As hardware continues to age, the Windows 7 deployment pace is accelerating, the Forrester researchers said, as "I&O (infrastructure and operations) teams tie their upgrade into the natural PC refresh cycle of their business."
On brand-new PCs being deployed by businesses, Windows 7 usage is even higher (at 31 percent). Forrester is predicting that number (Windows 7 deployment on brand new business PCs) will hit 83 percent within a year.
Adding to the Windows 7 upgrade pace is the fact that Windows Vista is on its way out, the researchers said. "Windows Vista adoption peaked at nearly 14% in November 2009, and its share has since shrunk in half as firms upgrade their employees to Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1)."
Windows XP share was also down among business users over the past year, Forrester noted, declining 9 points, to 60 percent. But XP still remains, by a long shot, the "most widely deployed desktop OS" among those surveyed.
As other market watchers have found, on the browser share side, Microsoft isn't faring as well as it is with Windows -- despite the fact that IE 8 was bundled with Windows 7.
Overall Internet Explorer usage declined over the past year, as users abandoned IE 6 for Firefox, Chrome and IE 8, Forrester found. (IE 9 adoption didn't figure into this report, as the final version of IE 9 wasn't released until mid-March 2011.)
From the report:
"Overall IE use is slowly eroding as firms replace legacy Windows XP systems with IE6. In fact, through March 2011, IE use declined to 58.7%. As firms deploy Windows 7, I&O managers need to ensure that their web applications are compatible with IE8."
Google's Chrome browser is gaining wide acceptance among enterprise users, reaching 14 percent share among those surveyed by Forrester by the end of Q'1 2011. Firefox usage was nearly 18 percent by the end of March among the surveyed base, a solid number that Forrester researchers attributed to Firefox's firm entrenchment within many businesses "thanks to the proliferation of add-ons that simplify and automate everyday tasks."