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Microsoft's 'big gamble' with Windows 8 won't pay off in the enterprise, says Gartner

Gregg Keizer | Sept. 27, 2012
Microsoft is taking a "big gamble" with its new Windows 8, one that will see the operating system peak at just 20% to 25% of corporate PCs, Gartner analysts said today.

In any case, Windows 8 won't be a hit, Kleynhans predicted, citing the every-other theory that with one release Microsoft offers a so-called "plumbing" upgrade, one that dramatically changes the underlying technology, but with the other launches a "polish" release that is more tweak than anything.

Under that scenario, Windows XP was a "polish" of Windows 2000, while Vista was a "plumbing" release. Windows 7 is another "polish." And Windows 8, for all its similarities to its precursor in the desktop UI, is actually a "plumbing."

"Plumbing releases tend to be very difficult migrations," noted Kleynhans. "Which is why they tend to be very slow in uptake. But polished releases are typically easier. Things are working well [in the operating system], and they're easily migrated to. Migrations tend to be more successful."

Kleynhans highlighted Windows Vista, the 2007 upgrade that was roundly criticized by users and analysts for, among other things, biting off more change than hardware could handle. "Vista, a plumbing release, met with a lot of push-back," he said.

The same will happen with Windows 8, Kleynhans predicted: "There are enough issues with Windows 8, there's significant [upgrade] fatigue in the market. Windows 8 will not get the kind of acceptance that we've seen with Windows 7.

"Windows 8 will get 20% to 25% of the corporate user base, at most, before it's replaced with whatever comes next," he said. "It will look more like Vista, [and] it won't have the installed base that we've seen with Windows 7 or XP."

According to web analytics company Net Applications, Vista topped out at a 19% share of all operating systems worldwide in October 2009, the month Windows 7 launched. As of August 2012, it had sunk to 6%.

Meanwhile, Windows 7 just became the world's most-popular OS, nailing a 43% share last month to finally take the No. 1 spot from XP, which retains a still-impressive 45.5% share.

In the past, Microsoft has made recommendations similar to Gartner's, that enterprises should continue with deployments of Windows 7 to scrub XP from their networks. Since June 2012, however, the last time a company official made such remarks, Microsoft has been quiet on the subject, instead devoting events and press releases to Windows 8, its launch and its suitability for tablets and "convertibles" -- hybrid hardware that combines characteristics of tablets and traditional laptops.



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