October 19, 2009, 11:12 AM — A few of you will move toward Macintosh and Linux operating systems for more of your computers, but not enough to hurt Microsoft. Windows 7 will become, for three reasons, the most popular personal computer OS in 2012 (assuming ancient Mayan predictions are wrong and we're still here). Those three reasons? Money, time, and hassle.
Your old XP systems should have been replaced a couple of years ago, but you didn't do that because Vista stunk so much. Now you don't want to do that because the economy still lags, but dying hard drives and flaky motherboards will force you to move.
What will you move to? The OS that lets you keep your applications and your same data formats. Pundits list a dozen reasons to move to Macs or Linux, but they forget the three most important: short term issues of money, time, and hassle.
Moving to Macs costs more money than the equivalent Windows hardware, and Mac software versions of your PC programs add to the cost. Linux options reduce the cost by including Open Office, a productivity suite every bit as good as Office 2003 and more familiar than Office 2007, as well as other programs. You can save serious coin, but the time and hassle factors mean of the many that should change, few will. Macs mean less time and hassle, but more money. In today's world, most companies demand three out of three, and that means sticking with Windows.
Time spent migrating Windows systems from XP or Vista to Windows 7 will be nonexistent, because most small businesses will get Windows 7 on new hardware, period. The real world advantages of moving from Vista to Windows 7 are tiny, no matter how MS fanboys crow about W7. You can't upgrade XP to Windows 7, so don't bother. Your time spent installing Windows 7 will be the time spent unboxing new computers.
Hassle includes dealing with change of any type. You'll have change hassle moving from XP to W7, but not as much as moving to Mac or Linux. What are your other options, paper and pencil? Some users will need help with Windows 7, but few companies will organize official training classes, because those cost money and take time. Here's where one or two of the new Windows 7 books will come in handy to speed training.
Long term, businesses will spend less money, time, and hassle on Mac or Linux options. Unfortunately, short term thinking almost always prevails, so that means Windows 7.
Most businesses will keep their XP systems running as long as they don't requires any service calls. When they die, rather than fix them one more time, most jump to a new system with Windows 7. Small businesses should seriously investigate Mac or Linux options rather than automatically choosing Windows 7, but few will. Short term thinking will actually cost them more time, money, and hassle.