But improved PC sales won't all be down to Windows 7 itself warns Vile: "It will be difficult to unravel the Windows 7 effect from the effect of the economic recovery (or at least consumer confidence), but my feeling is that the two together will conspire to drive an uplift in sales compared to last year."

PC World points to the hugely successful Summer pre-sale of Windows 7 boxed copies as an indication of how sales will go from Thursday on. Here's Jeremy Fennell, Category Director again: "The demand for pre-order copies made Windows 7 the fastest selling operating system in PC World's history, so we're expecting Thursday to be a busy day."

However, the Windows 7 pre-order sales were at a reduced price point, and Gartner's Jump warns that upgrades in European nations could be undermined by higher prices. Furthermore the upgrade prices in Europe are significantly higher than those in the US, meaning that fewer European consumers may buy the upgrade to Windows 7.

But will organisations adopt the OS? After all, the true test of the success of a version of Windows is if it is adopted by business – the true driving force behind the Microsoft balance sheet. With intriguing results, Sunbelt Software questioned 1,500 businesses and found that nearly 60 per cent are planning to deploy Windows 7, with 30 per cent within the first six months and a further 11 per cent waiting for the first Service Pack.

Straight from XP to Windows 7

Vile believes there are "significantly more businesses" talking about deploying Windows 7 during the first year of release than with any other previous version of Windows. "There seems to be far less of a hang-up with waiting for SP1 with Windows 7 - I think because so many people have had direct positive experiences over quite a few months now."

"Because XP works, and Vista is quite demanding, take up of Vista has been slow and many organisations have delayed migration," explains Simon Jewell, CTO at consultant Avanade. Gartner believes all organisations should plan to be off Windows XP by the end of 2012 at the latest.

Vile believes that quick Windows 7 upgrading isn't because of a lot of new investment, but rather that delayed upgrading and modernisation cycles will take place. "I anticipate Windows 7 uptake in the business sector to progress at a similar rate to XP a few years ago - much better than Vista, but still relatively steady."

Charles Smulders, Managing Vice President at Gartner, agrees. "An overdue PC hardware upgrade cycle and the economic environment, will be as equally important as Windows 7 in determining final demand in 2010."

Paul Davis, IT Administrator at computer games developer Media Molecule, says that he found productivity gains using the new OS of up to 50 per cent "when loading data". Jobs that had been taking between eight to 10 minutes are now taking three to four minutes, he says. "After we've ironed out a couple of technical issues, we are planning to roll Windows 7 out across the company when it officially launches."

One thing is unprecedented – the pre-release reception to a new version of Windows has never been this positive and informed through the Beta process.

"The customer feedback has been very positive," says ITIC Analyst Laura DiDio. "The general consensus [is] that Microsoft has successfully addressed the backwards compatibility issues with legacy hardware, drivers and applications. Windows 7 looks like a winner."

Gartner Vice President Michael Silver agrees. "It's important for Microsoft to get off to a good start with Windows 7 to build momentum and put the problems of Vista behind it."

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