Enterprises slow to embrace Windows 7

CIOs at recent conference say they're happy to stick with XP

Consumers may appear to be snapping up Windows 7, but large companies aren't, according to CIOs interviewed this week.

IT leaders who spoke to Computerworld US at the Society for Information Management's recent SIMposium 09 conference in Seattle said their companies are largely staying with running Windows XP on the desktop.

Despite the eight years that have passed since XP's release, they expressed little urgency to upgrade to Windows 7.

Peter Whatnell, CIO for petroleum retailer Sunoco, said the company won't move to Windows 7 for at least two years.

"There's nothing driving us to go to that new environment, because of the nature of our company and our industry," said Whatnell.

Sunoco has 8,500 employees, but only 1,000 have PCs. All of them run XP. Most were upgraded to Office 2003 only at the beginning of this year.

While Sunoco mostly runs Microsoft software, it is also what Whatnell calls Sunoco an "N minus 1" shop, meaning that the company is at least one — and often two — versions behind the latest software release.

"Windows 7 runs like a champ on my personal netbook, but we don't really need it," he said.

Insurer Chubb is just starting to plan its testing and rollout of Windows 7, said CIO Jim Knight. "We will do [the upgrade], but it will be slow and steady," he said. The conpany has 10,000 employee PCs, all on XP.

Enterprises have traditionally waited until the arrival of the first service pack before upgrading Windows, if not later.

Microsoft reaps its highest profits from enterprise agreements. Such licences, which require the purchase of three-year Software Assurance maintenance agreements, result in organisations paying nearly twice the full licence price of Windows over that period.

By comparison, a consumer buying a new PC gets an OEM licence of Windows, which is sold by Microsoft to the PC manufacturer at a huge discount to the list price.

Mueller Water Products also doesn't expect to begin rolling out Windows 7 to its 2,200 desktops for another 18 to 24 months.

"We have been playing with the Windows 7 betas," said Bob Keefe, the manufacturing firm's CIO . "We certainly like it more than Vista."

None of the CIOs said they were deploying either Mac or Linux computers in significant numbers, not even Curt Pederson, CIO of Oregon State University.

Oregon State's Open Source Lab hosts a number of open-source projects in its datacentres for public download. They include the Apache web server, Drupal content management system, Gentoo Linux, the Linux kernel itself, and others. OSU also runs mostly open-source software in its back-end infrastructure.

But Pederson says deep educational discounts, combined with faculty interest in staying on Windows and Microsoft Office, keeps the 3,000 desktops that his group manages on XP.

OSU plans to deploy Windows 7 in staggered rollouts of new PCs, though Pederson said a timetable has not been decided.

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Tags Windows 7xpSociety for Information Managementsimposium 09

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