Thursday, 22 October 2009

Windows 7 – today’s the day

(By Philip Carnelley, 22 Oct 09 09:00) At long last – is anyone unaware? – Windows 7 is finally released today. After many months of beta releases, reviews, column inches there seems little more to say. But what, actually, are its prospects? Actually we think they’re quite good, but uptake will be quite slow.

That’s not because of competition, though. It’s inertia. There is a pent-up demand created by the real and deep-rooted reluctance of enterprises and government to move from XP to Vista. They tell us they are going to move to Windows 7 – eventually. But not till it’s proven (service pack 1, probably). And the only as part of their hardware refresh cycles. But they are unlikely to choose something else. Consumers too will not switch en masse. Also, despite the high level of pre-orders, most consumers will not upgrade their PCs unless it’s free and / or automatic.) As we said yesterday, it requires too much skill, time and knowledge for too little return.

The spectre at the feast is Google, but our view on Google operating systems is that the impact will be slow burn, limited in impact for the foreseeable future. It is very relevant that Linux never took off on Netbooks. XP was more familiar and worked well enough. That said, Chrome has two potential plus points that Linux didn't: first, the halo effect if Google Android becomes really popular and people want the same on their netbook. The second is if a new form factor takes off (Apple iPad shall we call it?) and people may prefer to take the Google branded version.

So today’s battleground is the desktop but the war is being fought across the whole mix of form factors.
Apple has done brilliantly to establish its consumer devices and then exploit the halo effect of its iPods and then iPhones. (Yet on PCs/laptops its marketshare is still low: see Snow Leopard won’t change Apple’s spots). But that precedent doesn’t mean Google is more likely to succeed. Both it, and Microsoft now it have to compete with Apple, as well as with Nokia (which was slow to respond but is doing so), and Palm. Even so, that’s mainly the consumer angle. We don’t see Google Chrome as any more than an interesting dot on the horizon for enterprise and government today. A decade ago there was much talk of industry and government switching to ‘open systems’ for its desktops – even, in the case of government, making them mandatory – but it never happened. In some ways not much has changed.

Microsoft reports its Q1 results tomorrow afternoon. It will be interesting to get their comments on the events of the last few days.

No comments:

Post a Comment