So where will businesses turn, if not to Windows 8? Windows 7 is the escape hatch.
It's impossible to predict the future, of course, but current trends paint a very disappointing picture for Windows 8 adoption in the workplace. Fiberlink, a device management company that helps oversee a million client notebooks, told PCWorld that as many as 98 percent of its client computers have been upgraded to Windows 7, not Windows 8 or 8.1. Meanwhile, of the 479,000 Windows machines tracked by Softchoice from May through September, Windows 7 machines accounted for 41.8 percent of its base, while just 0.2 percent were running Windows 8.
"Most of the migration is from XP to Windows 7," says Dell's Raley, simply.
Michael Silver, an analyst for Gartner, told us that his firm's research shows more than 90 percent of large organizations are moving to Windows 7. "The typical organization doesn't start deploying a new OS until two years after it ships," Silver said in an email message. "Windows 8 has only been out for less than a year, so just do the math."
Actually, the most vocal arguments against using Windows 8 in your workplace have come from consultants such as Gartner, which argued against using Windows 8 from the beginning. In September 2012, Gartner advised businesses to turn to Windows 7, not 8. Then, a month later, Gartner analyst Silver told Reuters that he expected 90 percent of organizations would not deploy Windows 8 broadly.
Microsoft: What, us worry?
Surprisingly, Microsoft doesn't mind that your business is more interested in Windows 7 than Windows 8. Part of the company's strategy is pushing "brand Windows"—Windows of any flavor, as long as it means licensing revenue. And moving customers off Windows XP improves overall PC security as a whole.
"Since Windows 8 launched, our guidance to business customers has been to continue Windows 7 migrations that are already in process," a Microsoft representative told PCWorld in a statement. "We recommend our customers continue these deployments and consider Windows 8 in targeted scenarios where it makes the most sense, such as highly mobile workers. As Windows 8 launched less than a year ago, we are still seeing a lot of businesses completing those planned Windows 7 migrations now.
"Every business is unique and has different needs," the Microsoft representative added. "The most important thing is that businesses move off XP before April 8, 2014, and onto a modern operating system, and moving to Windows 7 will not only ensure that customers remain on a supported version of Windows, but they will be on a path to Windows 8 and can take advantage of innovations in the Windows 7 platform, including enhanced security and control, increased user productivity, and streamlined PC management."
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