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Let’s be blunt: the biggest issue with Windows 8 is not the much-maligned Metro touch interface; it’s that 60% majority of corporations say they have “no compelling business need” to upgrade to the latest Microsoft desktop or the Windows 8 RT Surface Tablet which debut this week.

Those are the findings of ITIC’s latest independent ITIC Windows 8 Deployment and Usage Trends Survey which polled over 500 organizations during September.

The Web-based survey found that only 10% of respondents – or one-in-10 companies – have definitive plans to migrate to Windows 8 once it’s released on October 26. That’s in stark contrast to the 64% of the respondents to ITIC’s Windows 7 poll who stated their intentions to migrate to Windows 7 just Microsoft released that operating system in the fall of 2009.

Similarly, only 9% of those polled currently plan to purchase a Windows 8 Surface Tablet compared with 49% who say they will not buy the forthcoming Windows 8 Surface Tablet.

Windows 7 is a big factor. Organizations cited their satisfaction with existing Windows 7 desktops, or the fact that they are just now commencing a Windows 7 upgrade as the main reasons for not migrating to Windows 8.

Among the other Windows 8 survey highlights:

  • Although 49% of survey participants said they will not migrate to Windows 8 vs. 10% who said they will upgrade or buy Windows 8 – four-out-of-10 users are on the fence. The 41% of respondents who classified themselves as “undecided” represent both a mission and a potential mandate for the new Microsoft desktop OS. One quarter – 25% — said they are “studying the issue” while 17% are “unsure.”
  • A 58% majority of corporate respondents have not yet tried the Windows 8 desktop OS beta. Of the 42% that have tested it, a 32% majority gave it the new client OS positive ratings for performance, reliability and features. The remaining 10% of early beta users/adopters gave it a negative rating; this was almost overwhelmingly due to the difficulty with the Touch screen; these users complained that it made it difficult to use and access Windows-based applications.
  • On a more positive note, only 3% of corporate survey participants said they are considering switching from Microsoft Windows to another desktop OS.

To say that Microsoft has a lot riding on its imminent Windows 8 launch is to have a magnificent grasp of the obvious.

By now, most of us have heard the reports that Microsoft will spend a whopping $1.5 to $1.8 billion in an all-out Windows 8 and Windows 8 RT Surface tablet marketing blitz. Microsoft declined to confirm the figure saying it never comments on such matters. But just this week, the company did release some pertinent numbers: $39.99 and $499; that is the introductory list price of Windows 8 and the retail price of the Windows 8 Surface Tablet, respectively.

Both designed to spark interest and spur sales of the new Windows 8 offerings and to emphasize the fact that Microsoft intends to be price-competitive with rivals Apple and Google. The $39.99 introductory price for a download copy of Windows 8 will be good through January 31, 2013. That is the least expensive Windows OS tag in Microsoft’s history. Likewise, the $499 retail cost of the Windows 8 RT Surface Tablet puts in right in line with Apple’s iPad (minus 3G or 4G capabilities).

But will these moves be enough to convince users to migrate?

We’ll find out soon enough. Meanwhile Microsoft has its work cut out for it: to convince corporations and consumers alike that there are reasons to migrate to Windows 8 and the Surface Tablet.

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