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Windows XP Users Finally Ready to Move On

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Why staunch IT holdouts are finally willing to drop Microsoft's XP platform and embrace Windows 7.

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As Apple (AAPL) fanatics are whipped into a frenzy over the latest of Steve Jobs' shiny gadgetry, Microsoft (MSFT) users are slowly getting over their long-term relationship with Windows XP -- i.e. the one that finally clicked, the one without all the hangups, the one that got away. Microsoft's celebrated OS enjoyed an eight-year heyday as the platform with which Windows users identified. Spending long nights together, laughing, experimenting. Keeping them grounded.

But now, after an ill-advised fling with the cranky and issue-laden Vista, Windows users are at the precipice of an arranged marriage with Microsoft's latest debutante, Windows 7. Admittedly more attractive and open to new things, Windows 7 has caught users' eyes for a few months now, but largely left them wary of ditching a comfortable lifestyle with the reliable OS next door. However, Microsoft urged PC users to move on and court the younger platform -- even going so far as to refuse support of an XP relationship in due time.

As such, Windows users' hands are tied. Tradition is tradition, and they have to accept Microsoft's path -- lest they escape its strict ideology.

But those who chose to remain have turned over a new leaf. Results of a new study show that Windows users who've been the most unwilling to let XP go -- IT departments -- are finally ready to move on.

The survey -- conducted by the marketing research firm Dimensional Research and sponsored by Dell's (DELL) IT systems management firm Kace -- queried more than 900 IT professionals and revealed that a vast majority (87%) are ready to take the Windows 7 plunge at some point this year. That's a far cry from the mere 47% who were planning to drop the Vista bomb on their companies at a comparable point after its release.

In fact, some IT professionals are so excited at the improvements Microsoft has made with Windows 7 that 46% are planning to adopt the platform before its first Service Pack fixes any middling errors.

Diane Hagglund, Dimensional Research's founder and lead analyst of the study, noted that while IT departments are more willing than ever to make the shift to Windows 7, a sizable 86% still have concerns over the compatibility between the OS and the software it supposedly supports. "IT always has concerns about everything and rightly so," Hagglund said. "New technology always brings with it issues."

But she added, "The vibes for Windows 7 have been very positive, especially when compared to Vista's." This is reflected in the study's results. Only one-quarter of respondents expressed concern over Windows 7 performance.

In an interview with CNet last month, Microsoft Vice President Brad Brooks echoed Hagglund's statement. "Windows Vista was a generation of the operating system that was passed up by small businesses; they stayed with XP," Brooks said. "We're seeing a lot of trends at retail that are telling us small businesses are starting to come back in the marketplace."

He added, "We are sitting in a very different position than where we have been in the last three years."

Windows XP was a fine companion for the greater share of a decade. But times have changed. People change. It's time to move on to a new life.

Goodbye, XP. Remember, we'll always have Grand Theft Auto 3.
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