Windows 7 seen to stir up static corporate spend in 2010

The Windows 7 on display at a store in Rosenheim, South  Germany, on Thursday. AP

Analysts said PC vendors already stood to benefit from a hardware refresh cycle next year. Microsoft’s new, supposedly more stable platform should serve as further impetus to upgrade aging machines.

Industry watchers say Windows 7 may also have a short-term impact on PC sales to consumers — potentially a slight benefit to consumer-oriented players such as Hewlett-Packard and Acer Inc. But many large businesses will look to 2010 and beyond to buy, preferring to wait and see.

The expected refresh cycle that is being touted by the likes of HP and Dell Inc would likely take place regardless of Microsoft’s new offering, analysts say. That’s because of a pent-up need to replace old hardware — a cycle put off as budgets shrank in the downturn. But no one knows how robust it will be.

Research group Gartner expects commercial PC sales to rise 10 per cent in 2010 and an additional 13 per cent in 2011, as businesses replace 4- and 5-year-old computers. Early, positive reviews for Windows 7 should give businesses a further nudge.

As Vista ends its nearly three years of life on the shelf, only 10-15 per cent of enterprises have migrated, analysts say. The rest remain on the 8-year-old Windows XP.

The entire computer food chain, from chipmakers like Intel Corp and Advanced Micro Devices to disk drive makers like Seagate Technology, stands to benefit from a robust push by companies to replace PCs. As PC market recovery takes hold and investors anticipate a bump in corporate spending on computers next year.

Goldman Sachs expects IT spending to rise 4 per cent in 2010 to 320.4 million units, reversing an estimated 8 per cent slide this year. It sees PC unit growth of 9 per cent in 2010. Windows 7 is getting a big welcome from PC vendors eager to forget the much-maligned Vista platform.

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