Windows 7 to fulfill 'unsated demand' for next OS

Lack of Vista deployments will prompt most businesses to upgrade to Windows 7 from XP, says Microsoft executive.

SINGAPORE--Businesses will be compelled to upgrade to Windows 7 because of the void left in the Windows operating system market by predecessor Vista, according to a Microsoft executive.

Andrew Pickup, Microsoft's Asia-Pacific general manager of marketing and business operations, admitted in an interview Thursday that the lack of Vista deployments, coupled with the end of mainstream XP support in April this year, has left the market with "unsated demand" for the next version of Windows. Pickup was speaking to ZDNet Asia at the launch of the new Windows OS in the country.

Windows 7 will be further boosted by an expected 10 percent growth in PC shipments next year, he added. The Windows OS is typically offered in bundled deals with new hardware.

In contrast, following Vista's launch two years ago, PC shipments shrank by 4 percent in 2008. That had a negative impact on Vista, said Pickup.

Gartner in May advised businesses to skip Vista in favor of Windows 7, saying the new OS further improves upon new features introduced to the Windows OS by Vista. The research analyst also noted that enterprises should upgrade to Windows 7 from Windows XP by end-2012.

While Redmond is cautious about the take-up of Windows 7, some expect it to soon take over the reigns from Windows XP as the standard OS for business PCs. IT analyst firm Forrester said earlier this week it expects Windows 7 to be the main OS deployed in businesses by next year.

Jens Butler, principal analyst at Ovum, concurred there will be significant adoption of Windows 7 in 2010. With the launch of Windows 7, organizations that have stuck with XP have the opportunity to undertake "some serious housekeeping", he said Thursday in a statement.

Applauding Microsoft's efforts in gathering user feedback, Butler said the software giant claimed to have tested the new OS across 8 million people. Windows 7, he added, held "potential for Microsoft to rebuild some of the trust lost through Vista".

"Expect enterprise uptake and migration programs to start to appear during the first two quarters of 2010, with greater acceleration once budgets [are] released on the back of the greenshoots of recovery and when XP support is phased out by Microsoft's channel partners," said Butler.

According to Pickup, consumer enthusiasm was also high for Windows 7. He cited a launch event held last night in the country, where some 300 consumers showed up to buy copies of the OS.

Nonetheless, the "vast majority" of consumer upgrades to Windows 7 will be through new PC purchases because most consumers do not have the technical know-how to upgrade their OS, he noted.