As Microsoft prepares to release Windows 7, tech world prepares to yawn

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As Microsoft gears up for the release of Windows 7, it looks like distressing news may be in the works for the software titan. A recent survey of informational technology (IT) administrators revealed that 59 percent have no plans to adopt the new platform and more than a third may delay implementation until the end of 2010. In fact, only 5.4 percent stated that they will move to the new system in 2009.

The survey, which was conducted by ScriptLogic, queried over 20,000 IT admins, and received over 1,000 responses. The primary reason for delaying or refusing upgrade was economic: 42 percent of respondents stated that they were holding off on Windows 7 because of a lack of time and resources. In light of the recession, this seems reasonable; faced with slowing revenue streams and layoffs, it seems likely that a new operating system of questionable utility would be the last thing on a lot of agendas.

Beyond this, a combination of factors are bringing the utility of operating systems into question. In a recent informal survey, only one of twelve CIOs queried stated that their company was planning to implement Windows 7 before the end of 2011. Many of the rest are sticking with Windows XP, the popular operating system that Vista was designed to replace.

While the majority of slow adopters cited cost, the survey also revealed that 39 percent of IT admins planned to hold off because of concerns about application compatibility. A large part of this nervousness may be a holdover from the 2007-2008 Vista debacle. Vista, which promised a slick new user interface and a variety of impressive features, didn't work with many computers, even those that were touted as "Windows Vista Capable." Even among those that did work, the OS was notorious for slowing down processing speed, having insufficient hardware drivers, and other severe problems.

This problem even extended to Microsoft employees, the very people who were supposed to be best positioned to enjoy the benefits of the new system. Perhaps the most impressive comment came from Mike Nash, a Microsoft vice president in software development. In an internal memo, Nash stated that "I personally got burned," and that the OS had crippled his computer. As he put it, "I now have a $2,100 e-mail machine."

Given that Vista seems to have represented Microsoft's first (accidental) foray into the netbook market, it is oddly appropriate that the company's "cloud" platform is emerging as a potential game-changer. With online versions of most Microsoft applications in the works, the interactions between OS and applications may become less important. In the long run, this could vastly expand the company's reach, even as it undermines its revenues.

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