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Study: Windows 7 Halves SMB Support Costs

Automation and security tools built into Microsoft's newest operating system mean fewer headaches for IT staffs and less downtime for users, IDC says.
Small and midsize businesses that upgrade their PCs to Windows 7 can cut their support costs by 50% or more and save up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process, according to a newly released study by IDC.

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"Businesses with 250 or fewer PCs that are deploying Windows 7 are gaining more than happier users," the study's authors wrote. "They are lowering support costs, improving security, and making end users more productive," they said.

IDC found that SMBs that migrated from Windows XP or Windows Vista to Windows 7 cut service desk support costs by 65%, for an average annual savings of $129 per user. They also cut PC/OS support costs by 55% for a per-user savings of $108 and reduced deployment costs by 45% for a per-user savings of $40.

"The greatest percentage reduction comes from a decrease in service desk support burden. This indicates that Windows 7 is less time consuming for IT professionals to manage," IDC said. Among other things, the researchers credit Windows 7 automation tools such as Remoter Server Administration for the time and money savings.

IDC said Windows 7 can also boost workplace productivity. The study found that employees in companies that have moved to the new OS are on pace to gain a week's worth of productive time over the course of a year. "End users spend considerably less time dealing with malware, downtime, and reboots when using Windows 7 compared with previous Windows products," according to the study, which was sponsored by Microsoft.

The upshot: SMBs that move to Windows 7 can see a positive return on investment in as little as 7.2 months, IDC said.

Few businesses moved from Windows XP to the unpopular Vista after the latter debuted in January of 2007. As a result, IDC said it expects a wave of migrations to Windows 7 in the coming months as support for Windows XP winds down. Support for XP Service Pack 2 ends July 13, and Extended Support for XP ends in April, 2014. Mainstream Support for XP ended last year.

Microsoft recently disclosed that it has sold more than 150 million Windows 7 licenses since the OS was released last October, making it the fastest selling operating system in the company's history.