Windows 7 catching on with enterprises; IE loses ground to Chrome, Safari

Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system is steadily replacing XP in enterprises, according to a study by Forrester Research, although the company's Internet Explorer browser, while still holding the lion's share of the market, is losing ground.

By March of this year, Windows 7 ran on 20.9 percent of corporate PCs, the study found, or more than twice the 9.5 percent use measured by Forrester in April 2010. Meanwhile, IE's use over that same time period has decreased, from 89.6 percent to 87.6 percent, according to the report.

The results come from a sampling of "more than 400,000 client PCs" that visited Forrester's Web site. Forrester used that data in its "Corporate Desktop Operating System and Browser Trends, Q2 2010 to Q2 2011" study, which was written for infrastructure and operations managers.

Companies using Windows XP will face the end of free security patch support from Microsoft in April 2014. Forrester recommends that companies moving from that OS should test compatibility issues at least six months before migrating to a new desktop OS.

The 10-year-old Windows XP operating system still dominates the corporate desktop market. Nonetheless, Windows XP showed a near eight percentage-point decline during the study period. Its use decreased from 67.5 percent in April 2010 to 59.9 percent in March 2011.

IT managers should put a priority on their Windows 7 migration plans, the report advises. Most companies will "move to Windows 7 during the next year," Forrester predicts. Some organizations are opting to deploy Windows 7 as they replace old PC hardware.

The report also recommends testing virtualization and management solutions to prepare for "heterogeneous environments." IT managers should consider supporting alternative browsers, different device types (such as tablets) and even Apple Macs as employees embrace "bring your own" policies that allow them a choice of computers.

Mac computer use in companies increased during the survey period, from 9.1 percent to 11.0 percent. Use of Apple's Safari browser in companies increased from 6.2 percent to 8.8 percent in the study period. Security concerns about Safari haven't thwarted its use, the study noted.

The use of the Google Chrome browser has steadily increased over the study period, even as the browser market shares of both IE and Mozilla's Firefox have declined, according to the report. Chrome's use rose from 8.8 percent to 14.1 percent in a year's time.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.


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