High Windows 7 Satisfaction Spurs Business Spending

Windows 7, just two months on the market, is accelerating the pace of corporate computer buying, market research firm ChangeWave said.

Part of the reason may be that 93% of the IT professionals polled said that their company is satisfied with the new operating system, a one percentage point increase over a similar survey in July.

The results of ChangeWave's November poll of more than 1,700 U.S. corporate IT buyers wasn't a total surprise. "Previous ChangeWave surveys found companies deferring their PC purchases in anticipation of Windows 7 ," said director of research Paul Carton and researcher Adam Golub in an entry to the ChangeWave blog Tuesday. "The latest results show the opposite now occurring."

Nearly one in five respondents said that Windows 7 is making their firm quicken the pace of their normal computer upgrade cycle over the next six months. While only 3% said that Microsoft 's new operating system had caused "significant acceleration" of upgrade plans, 6% said it had had resulted in a "modest acceleration" and 10% said it had created a "slight acceleration."

About 10% of the corporate IT buyers polled said that their company had already bought PCs with Windows 7 installed.

Microsoft launched Windows 7 Oct. 22 , when the OS debuted in retail boxed copies and on new PCs. The successor to the problem-plagued Windows Vista has been available to Microsoft's volume license customers since August.

As ChangeWave said in July, Microsoft's timing of Windows 7 was "fortuitous" because U.S. corporate PC buying plans began to rebound before its release. The research firm's November poll showed that the rebound was strengthening, giving PC vendors -- and Microsoft, which makes most of its operating system income on the back of new PC sales -- reason for optimism.

According to ChangeWave's polling, 22% of the IT buyers said that their company plans to increase its spending during the first quarter of 2010, a four percentage point increase since a similar poll in August. Only 21% said that their firm would reduce IT spending, also a four-point change.

The last time more IT buyers said their company would be increasing spending than others predicted a spending decline was November 2007.

Microsoft, again because of Windows 7, will be one of the big beneficiaries of that increased spending, said ChangeWave. More than a quarter of those polled (26%) said that their company plans to boost its spending on Microsoft products in the next quarter, up from just 16% in August and 10% last February.

It doesn't hurt that companies are almost universally happy with Windows 7. Of the IT buyers whose companies already use the new OS, 37% said their firm was "very satisfied" with the operating system, while another 56% said their company was "somewhat satisfied." Those numbers were slightly better than the results of a July survey ChangeWave did with users running Windows 7 previews.

But Microsoft's success with Windows 7 does not seem to be hurting rival Apple , Carton and Golub said. "Planned Mac buying has hit a new high in the latest survey, with 10% saying their company will be buying Mac laptops and 7% desktops in the first quarter," they wrote. The 10% for Mac notebooks is a record in ChangeWave's surveys, which have tracked IT buyers' plan-to-buy responses for Apple hardware since mid-2005.

ChangeWave's poll is yet another hint that Apple is firing on all cylinders. Earlier this month, another research company, the NPD Group, said that sales of Apple's desktop computers were up 74% in October and November over the same two months the year before.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld . Follow Gregg on Twitter @gkeizer , send e-mail at gkeizer@ix.netcom.com or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed .

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