Most business PCs can already run Windows 7: Softchoice

While businesses may have other reasons for delaying an upgrade to Microsoft‘s (NASDAQ: MSFT) Windows 7 operating system when it launches next week, hardware need no longer be a barrier.

An analysis by Toronto-based solution provider Softchoice of more than 450,000 corporate PCs in its client environments in Canada and the U.S. shows that 88 per cent of PCs already meet the minimum requirements to run Windows 7, while 65 per cent meet the recommended requirements.

The numbers are a stark contrast to similar numbers Softchoice gathered at the launch of Windows Vista said Dean Williams, service development manager at Softchoice. When Vista launched, just 50 per could meet the minimum requirements without upgrades, and just six per cent met the recommended benchmarks.

“We’d read a lot about an eagerness to deploy Windows 7 and the pent-up demand people were expressing, but we wanted to look at data to see if they were actually capable of running it,” said Williams. “We were surprised at how many were capable of running Windows 7 compared to how many were capable of running Vista at the time of its release. It’s almost a night and day difference.”

The data includes both Canadian and U.S. businesses, but Williams said Softchoice doesn’t see an appreciable difference in either IT infrastructure or Windows 7 receptivity between the two countries.

The numbers shouldn’t be taken as a sign that enterprises have been refreshing their PCs recently. Rather, Williams said the numbers are a combination of natural refresh over recent years as well as the lower hardware requirements of Windows 7, compared to Vista.

“We don’t believe the refresh cycle has shortened in the last few years, if anything it has lengthened,” said Williams.

As well, the numbers also shouldn’t be taken as an indication that the hoped-for hardware refresh cycle triggered by Windows 7 won’t happen either, said Williams. While 88 per cent of PCs may be capable of running Windows 7, that is at the minimum requirements level.

“Depending on what applications an organization is looking to run, and depending on what performance they’re looking to get, they may find they need to exceed those minimum requirements. And there’s a time when replacement makes more sense than upgrading,” said Williams. “Natural refresh will still occur. There probably is some pent-up demand for PCs as, since last year, many organizations have really been trying to stretch refresh cycles.”

Rather, the take-away here, said Williams, is that while hardware requirements were a major barrier to upgrading to Windows Vista at launch, with Windows 7 that’s no longer the case. Instead, Williams said organizations need to invest the time in deployment planning before moving to 7. Many license holders are actually already entitled to Windows 7, he added.

“We’ve been getting a positive reception from users than want to understand the impact of deploying Windows 7,” said Williams. “They’re more interested than they were in Vista.”

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
A veteran technology and business journalist, Jeff Jedras began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the booming (and later busting) Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal, as well as everything from municipal politics to real estate. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada. He would go on to cover the channel as an assistant editor with CDN. His writing has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and a wide range of industry trade publications.

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