Windows 7 Promises Quick ROI for SMBs

Friday Jun 25th 2010 by Stuart J. Johnston
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Plus, the latest numbers show that Microsoft sells seven copies of Windows 7 per second.

A leading technology research firm reported Thursday that deploying Windows 7 can save IT decision makers at small and medium-sized business (SMB) significant time and money.

The IDC study, which was commissioned by Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), found that SMBs could recoup their investments for deploying Windows 7 in as little as seven to eight months. That should give IT decision makers more confidence in the new system as they plan to deploy Windows 7 small business software.

IDC's numbers regarding time for return on investment (ROI) are even more optimistic than an earlier Microsoft-commissioned survey published in February. That survey, which did not try to quantify just SMBs, was performed by Forrester Research. The Forrester report found that upgrading to Windows 7 could break even in as few as 13 months.

IDC, meanwhile, surveyed SMBs ranging from a U.S.-based staffing company with eight employees to a construction company in the Netherlands with 300 employees.

Given the disparity in sizes of firms and numbers of PCs, the bottom line results varied. However, all of the firms surveyed by IDC showed a positive ROI after deploying Windows 7, Randy Perry, vice president of business value consulting at IDC, said during a Webcast with media and Microsoft partners Wednesday.

"The [average] cost savings per PC results in an overall reduction of 51 percent," Perry told the audience. "Windows 7 pays for itself in reduced IT labor costs, depending on the PC," he added.

However, he cautioned that SMBs shouldn't wait too long before deploying Windows 7 because the costs, including so-called "opportunity costs," increase as time drags on, because much of that is dependent on the age of the PC hardware.

"If you hang onto PCs into year four, you end up with two operating systems [to support, e.g., Windows 7 and XP] ... the cost of doing nothing grows significantly ... and at the four-year point, the migration pays for itself in about one-and-a-half years in terms of reduction in IT labor," Perry said.

There are other places that SMBs can look to for increased ROI, however. For instance, IDC saw gains in user productivity, partly for items as seemingly small as fewer reboots.

"[Additionally] service desk labor drops dramatically," Perry added.

Microsoft has been putting the full-court press on customers to convince them to move to Windows 7 sooner rather than later. In that regard, the company announced in early June that it would start beta testing the first service pack for Windows 7 in late July -- approximately one year from the system's release to manufacturing (RTM).

Given that many IT decision makers in the past have waited for the first service pack to ship before deciding to deploy the latest version of Windows, Microsoft appears to be leaving little to chance.

It's just another indication of how popular Windows 7 really is. For instance, Microsoft announced Tuesday evening that it has now sold 150 million licenses for Windows 7 in the eight months since it launched.

"Windows 7 is the fastest selling operating system in history with seven copies of Windows 7 sold every second," Brandon LeBlanc, a Microsoft spokesperson, said in a post to the Windows Team blog.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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