Survey: Vista Adoption Weakens, as IT Pros Eye Apple

A KACE-sponsored survey on Windows Vista adoption represents more bad news for Microsoft's flagship operating system, even as Microsoft prepares to pour an estimated $300 million into a new Vista marketing campaign -- news that was announced at Microsoft's 2008 Worldwide Partner Conference.

The survey polled 1,162 IT professionals in June and was conducted by King Research for KACE, which makes a hardware-based systems management product for IT administrators. The company's KBOX product is also available as a plug-in to VMware's virtualized stack.

This latest survey represents a second go-round for KACE, which sponsored an initial survey published in November of 2007. The 2008 survey used the same database source as the survey conducted last year, as well as much of the same questions.

This survey found a slip in Windows Vista deployment plans, with 60 percent of respondents saying that they had "no plans to deploy Vista at this time," compared with 53 percent in the 2007 survey.

The respondents also appeared to reject the "common wisdom" that people were simply waiting for Service Pack 1 to deploy Vista, with the idea that initial bugs and incompatibilities would be worked out by then. A solid 92 percent of survey respondents said that "Vista Service Pack 1 has not changed their plans for Vista deployment."

Concerns about deploying Vista, pegged at 90 percent in the 2007 survey, dropped to 82 percent in this survey. However, the apparent increased confidence in Vista wasn't matched by deployment trends as 47 percent of respondents said they had "not deployed Vista in any way" compared with 48 percent in last year's survey.

"Windows 7," the code-name for Microsoft's newest OS expected to appear in the 2009 to 2010 time frame, hadn't affected the majority (51 percent) of the respondents' deployment plans. However 14 percent of respondents planned to skip Vista for Windows 7, while another 14 percent had decided to delay their Vista deployment plans while considering additional details about Windows 7.

Some respondents (42 percent) said they were considering alternative operating systems to Windows Vista. The Macintosh operating system was the favored alternative by 29 percent of respondents. Linux-based operating systems were also in the running, but trailed. More IT professionals reported challenges managing non-Windows operating systems in this survey, with 65 percent citing a need for expertise vs. 49 percent in 2007.

Despite those troubles, Rob Meinhardt, cofounder and CEO of KACE, believes that IT is moving more toward managing a heterogeneous desktop environment, even to the point of giving employees their choice of computer to use.

"I don't think in the future you are going to see homogeneity on the Windows front anymore," Meinhardt said. "You are going to see people running XP side-by-side with Vista. Now that's also true of cross-platform to non-Windows platforms. You are going to see more companies running Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows XP side-by-side with Macintosh."

KACE is a case in point, since about 50 percent of its computers are Macs, Meinhardt explained. KACE's "bias" in sponsoring the survey is that it advocates the use of its KBOX product to help IT administrators manage such heterogeneous environments. The product competes with Microsoft's Systems Management Server, which can only handle Windows environments, according to Meinhardt.

The survey results are one thing, but KACE also has an alternative method for estimating OS adoption. KACE customers can opt-in to a survey through the company's KBOX management product and share what operating systems they use. Meinhardt says that option has created "several hundred thousands of data points" on OS use.

"At the very high level, XP represent 85 percent of that pool," he said of this alternative KACE poll. "Vista is at about one percent, and Macintosh is at about four percent." Meinhardt concluded that "there is relatively low Vista adoption in the enterprise and indeed Apple is actually ahead of Vista in these businesses."

Those interested in seeing the full results of KACE's June 2008 survey can get a free copy (PDF) here.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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