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Last Rodeo? Gartner Says Windows 7 Could End Era of Big Migrations

On their own merits, Gartner Inc.'s forecasts this week were interesting: Windows 7 will 1) run on 42 percent of the global PC installed base by year end, 2) account for 94 percent of OSes shipped on new PCs in all of 2011, and 3) be the shipping OS for 635 million new PCs by the end of this year.

Even more interesting was an assumption included in the analyst firm's news release announcing the research.

"Gartner's forecast assumes that Windows 7 is likely to be the last version of Microsoft OS that gets deployed to everybody through big corporatewide migration," the release stated.

It's not the first time analysts and other industry pundits have suggested that the current massive Windows rollout will be the last. We heard this idea surface fairly often when Windows Vista shipped.

But Gartner has three interesting points of support that probably make the statement more likely to be true this time.

"In the future, many organizations will also use alternative client computing architectures for standard PCs with Windows OS," Gartner wrote. I'm reading iPads (err, tablets) here for alternative architectures. Microsoft's next OS release should contribute to this trend with its simultaneous tablet/ARM version (see "New Windows 8 Leaks Show Focus on Tablets").

Gartner also cited the moves toward both virtualization and cloud computing as reasons there may not be a next major migration season.

Unmentioned by Gartner is a fourth point that supports the view. Windows XP's share is huge, Vista's is small and Windows 8 looks, thus far, potentially disruptive. That could amplify Windows 7's attractiveness as a corporate OS, extending its life in the enterprise and giving the other three trends time to gather steam.

My gut feeling is that Gartner's probably still a little early on this assumption, though. There's a lot of corporate inertia and business justifications behind mass migrations, and many trends have to continue on their current trajectories for this assumption to become reality.


Posted by Scott Bekker on August 12, 2011