Windows 7 to get boost from rebounding PC buying plans

Uptick in purchasing plans comes at just the right time for Microsoft, say surveys

Microsoft's timing of Windows 7's launch is "fortuitous" because U.S. corporate PC buying plans are on the upswing for the first time in 18 months, a market research company said this week.

It doesn't hurt that 92% of the IT professionals who are running Windows 7 now said that they were satisfied with the new operating system, a one percentage point increase over a similar poll in April, said ChangeWave Research.

According to new data from ChangeWave, the bottom of the IT buying recession may be over. Its corporate purchasing survey revealed a four-percentage point increase in the number of respondents who said that their company would buy laptops and desktops during the July-September quarter.

The increases -- laptop purchasing plans climbed to 71% from February's 67%, while desktop buying plans increased to 68% from February's 64% -- were the first upticks ChangeWave has tracked since November 2007. "U.S. tech spending is in the process of rapidly stabilizing, with a dramatically improved outlook for the third quarter," said ChangeWave analysts Andy Golub and Paul Carton in a research note published Wednesday.

Microsoft will launch Windows 7 on Oct. 22, before the half-way mark of the year's fourth quarter. If PC purchasing plans continue to climb -- they have a ways to go to match the marks of 77% and 75% for notebooks and desktops, respectively, set in February 2007 -- Windows 7 could hitch a ride on the buying bandwagon.

"The timing of the Windows 7 launch is fortuitous, coming at what looks to be the tail end of the recession and after the first recorded uptick in planned corporate PC purchases in 18 months," said Golub and Carton.

ChangeWave's separate poll of 118 Windows 7 testers showed that 34% were "very satisfied" with the new OS, while 58% said they were "somewhat satisfied." While the first number was 10 points down from a February survey, the second was up 11 points, combining for a one-point overall gain. Only 8% said that they were "somewhat unsatisfied" or "very unsatisfied."

A major factor contributing to those positive attitudes is "Windows XP Mode," the add-on Microsoft announced in late May that lets users run applications designed for XP in a virtual machine in Windows 7. Nearly half of those polled -- 49% -- said that the virtual mode makes their company more likely to upgrade to Windows 7.

Windows XP Mode will be available only to users of Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate and Enterprise, the top-three editions of the OS.

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Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
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