Most business will adopt Windows 7 by 2011, but prefer Google's cloud

By 2011, 89% of 212 enterprises surveyed plan to use W7 but most are also leaning toward Google for cloud computing.

Microsoft, you are free to discontinue Windows XP sometime in 2010. Most businesses are expecting to hear that news, they say (although Microsoft has promised to support XP SP3 until 2014) and they are ready and willing to roll out Windows 7. On the other hand, Microsoft Office 2010 might not fair as well. This same crowd is leaning more heavily toward Google than Azure, Amazon or any other cloud computing platform.

These are some of the conclusions of a worldwide study of 212 enterprises conducted in December by the market research arm of CIOZone Research Network. Here are some of highlights:

  • 8% have already rolled out Windows 7.
  • 31% will have rolled out Windows 7 by the first half of 2010.
  • 66% will have rolled out Windows 7 by end of 2010.

As for cloud computing, the news isn't completely bleak for Microsoft. It has its biggest foothold in its most coveted customer, the large enterprise with $1 billion or greater in annual revenues. Although only one-quarter of the total respondents said they were interested in Azure in 2010 for hosted Microsoft apps, most of those interested (14%) were large enterprises. This is a big jump from the last CIO Zone survey on SaaS in June when so few details of Azure were known. At that time, most organizations said they thought they would be heavily using Google in 2010.

On the other hand, you can also say the glass is half empty for Azure. Even among the largesest, wealthiest companies, most plan to use Google, and use it more heavily, too. When asked how much usage they expected to give a specific cloud computing platform in 2010, on a scale of 1-5, with 1 indicating greatest usage and 5 indicating least usage, large enterprises ranked their planned Google usage at 3.03. They ranked their planned Azure usage at 3.48. Planned Amazon usage came in third at 3.49.

These results were not overly influenced by governments, either, which seem to be flowing toward Google Apps faster than Michael Phelps swimming the 200 meters butterfly. Government organizations rated their intended usage of Google Apps at 2.70 (heavy) and of Azure 4.13 (practically nonexistent).

Azure adoption rates CIOZone

Source: CIOZone Research Network. December, 2009. Used by permission.   Click to enlarge image. Source: CIOZone Research Network. December, 2009. Used by permission.

In many ways these cloud computing numbers tell an especially interesting story. Researchers actually asked survey respondents which cloud platform they planned to use for their Microsoft apps, not just any old app. The part of Google's cloud that hosts Microsoft-like apps is Google Apps, which isn't an apples-to-apples comparison to Azure. Google Apps is SaaS, the applications the company chooses to sell as services including Google Apps, e-mail (and related services like spam filter Postini) and Google Enterprise Search.

Google's cloud is Google App Engine and it supports Java, not native Windows/.Net, although it does support Python. (Disclaimer: I'm not a programmer, so I won't venture into more technical territory than that. No doubt readers can provide examples of how it's possible to run Windows/.Net apps on App Engine via Python or some other Java doodad and I gladly welcome that information. I'm merely trying to point out that Google didn't design this with Microsoft apps in mind.)

The fact that Windows 7 could be on the majority of desktops in 18 months time while Windows receives a ho-hum response in the cloud speaks volumes as to where IT professionals see Microsoft fitting into their next-gen infrastructures, and where they don't.

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Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.