Will Windows 7 drive client management software adoption?

Microsoft’s latest operating system could cause enterprise IT managers to shop for a better approach to managing multiple heterogeneous clients across their environment.

Forrester Research survey data shows that Microsoft currently leads in client management software among those polled, and the vendor’s latest operating system could continue to drive adoption.

Microsoft’s release of the Windows 7 operating system almost surely has many companies considering a migration from XP or Vista, and enterprise IT managers could also be thinking about upgrading their client management systems

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Forrester Research surveyed 655 IT decisions-makers about the operating systems currently running on their client systems. Nearly 80% reported PCs using Windows XP, which the research firm says could lead to widespread adoption of Windows 7.

“This makes a ripe market for Microsoft in which the desktop operating system has stagnated for years,” reads “Windows 7 Commercial Adoption Outlook,” a recent Forrester report. “Already 66% of the firms we surveyed recently expect to migrate to Windows 7 eventually, although most don’t have firm plans yet.”

Among the plans many industry watchers advise enterprise and SMB IT managers to consider is adoption of a client management software suite that provides automation features, which could significantly ease a migration to a new operating systems such as Windows 7 across multiple clients.

“At some point, Windows users will need to transition over to Windows 7 because XP will no longer be supported and Vista just didn’t take off in terms of adoption,” says Steve Brasen, principal analyst at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA). “The ability to manage and automate the processes around upgrading to Windows 7 will be critical for midsize and enterprise organizations.”

Companies ranging from Persystent Software to Kace to CA offer client management suites, but recent survey data from Forrester Research shows that among some 170 IT decision-makers polled nearly 50% currently rely on Microsoft for client and PC management software. One-quarter turn to Symantec’s products to manage client systems, and 11% use LANDesk (now part of Avocent). IBM, HP, CA, BMC and Novell each represented less than 10% of those polled by Forrester. Yet the majority of 655 IT decision-makers asked by Forrester said they were interested but had no plans to adopt client management software.

Windows 7 isn’t the only driver for adopting client management software. Forrester says the automation offered in such suites not only would speed and ease operating system migrations, but also help companies adding virtual clients to their environment and enable IT to make available already lean IT staff resources for more strategic projects.”

“With PC refreshes and Windows 7 just around the corner for most firms, IT pros need client management tools to automate their hardware and operating system upgrades,” Forrester senior analyst Benjamin Gray concludes in a recent presentation. “In order to free up IT resources for more strategic projects, firms will look to systems management tools to automate more support processes.”

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