by Andy Patrizio
More than a few polls and surveys have shown that Windows 8 is being met with a collective “meh” from the public, and corporate America doesn’t sound exactly stoked, either.
Dell Chief Financial Officer Brian Gladden told the Wall Street Journal that businesses likely won’t look at Windows 8 until next summer, when the kinks have been worked out of the system.
Gladden would know, since he and other top executives at a company like Dell talk to major customers all the time to get sales projections. In 2009, he predicted there would be a slowdown in PC sales as Windows 7 approached, because people wouldn’t want to buy a PC with the old hardware. That proved true, with PC sales in the first half of 2009 at levels not seen since the Dot Com bubble burst, but they rebounded in a big way in the second half of the year, when Windows 7 shipped.
PC upgrade cycles are typically three to four years and there are a lot of risks with upgrading early, Gladden told the Journal. He said that about half of all business customers are running Windows XP or Windows Vista while the other half have migrated to Windows 7.
Enterprises tend to be slow movers, as they have to test home-grown applications on the new OS and then get them tested out. Movement off Windows XP has been especially difficult because its successor, Windows Vista, was so poorly received that many companies chose to stick with XP even after Windows 7 shipped in 2009.
But even if enterprises are slow to move, Dell said it will be there for them. “The biggest factor for our commercial customers is transitioning off of Windows XP — moving to Windows 8 or Windows 7 depending on their overall needs. With XP support ending in April 2014, this provides an excellent opportunity to avoid increased security risks, missed productivity gains and feature limitation on new systems,” said David Lord, director of product marketing at Dell.
Lord said Dell will continue to sell Windows 7 through next year, but it will have a few exclusive Windows 8 products. The Latitude 10, XPS 10 and XPS 12 will only be available with Windows 8 to take advantage of the enhanced touch capabilities the software provides, Lord said.
Gartner has encouraged firms to begin a migration to Windows 7 as soon as possible and not delay for Windows 8. The change from XP to 7 will be significant enough, but from XP to 8, that might prove to be a bridge too far. One Gartner report stated “independent software vendors (ISVs) and enterprises will likely need nine to 18 months to obtain and test supported applications and plan deployments.”
“Most organizations are committed to Windows 7 and will continue to deploy it to get XP out by April 2014,” said Michael Silver, research vice president with Gartner. April 2014 is when Microsoft will end all support for Windows XP.
“While some could be waiting for [Service Pack 1], it’s more likely that they are simply too busy with Windows 7 and are not convinced they will look at Windows 8 for most users,” added Silver.
Windows 8 isn’t exactly racking up endorsements. Bloomberg recently reported that Intel CEO Paul Otellini told employees that Windows 8 is being released before it’s done. A survey by Forum Windows 8 found of people using Windows 7 found half of users preferred Windows 7 over 8.