Small business sticks with Windows XP

Small business sticks with Windows XP

Only two percent of local small and medium-sized businesses are considering shifting to Windows Vista in the next year.

More SMEs are also either running out-dated versions of Windows or not using Windows at all, than those who have adopted Microsoft’s latest operating system.

These are among the findings of a new survey of 176 local SMEs conducted by the Employers and Manufacturers Association and commissioned by Symantec.

The survey found that while Windows XP is still the favourite operating system among respondents, with 77 percent saying they are currently running it, only six percent have made the switch to its successor, Vista.

In contrast to this, eight percent are running Windows 2000, while seven percent run systems other than Windows.

One percent of respondents are still using Windows 95 or 98, while the same number are still on Windows NT.

Ben Green, head of Microsoft New Zealand’s Windows business group says this shows the company still has a lot of work to do in better communicating the value of Vista with local businesses.

“Vista helps reduce IT complexity and the overall desktop cost of ownership, it’s also the most secure operating system we have ever produced. We know both [are] hot topics for Kiwi businesses. We simply need to get out there and tell people more about these dimensions to the Vista story.”

Green says sales of Vista licences globally have passed 180 million, adding the early adoption phase is moving into the mainstream. “We are pleased with Vista’s progress and we are on track to a faster rate of deployment in the enterprise compared to both XP and [Windows 2000].”

Locally, Green says companies are more likely to adopt Vista as they acquire new, more powerful machines. Citing IDC figures, he says about 20 percent of PCs in New Zealand are new, but acknowledges not all of these would run Vista, as XP was sold until June, while customers were also offered downgrade rights.

He also provided figures by local internet auction site Trade Me that showed 17 percent of its users were running Vista in May, compared with 12 percent in January.

While conceding that these figures do not relate specifically to SMEs, Green says Trade Me enjoys strong web traffic throughout the day, including during working hours.

At its recent Worldwide Partner Conference in the US, Microsoft announced a multi-million dollar campaign to “bust myths” around Vista. It also launched the Vista Small Business Assurance Programme, which aims to help US-based SMEs switch to the operating system.

Even though this programme is not due for local release, it has been welcomed by Scott Cowen general manager of local Microsoft distributor Ingram Micro’s solution group, who attended the event. “We are very excited if Microsoft recognises it needs to drive extra marketing for the migration. We are fully supportive of Microsoft driving that perception change.”

The channel can potentially make a lot of money from selling Vista, and with Microsoft launching a multi-million dollar campaign, even if it is in the US, this will boost their confidence in the operating system, says Cowen.

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