Windows 7 is on track to become the most popular operating system by the end of 2011, according to research firm Gartner. The current-generation Windows OS will find a home on 42 percent of PCs and will ship installed on 94 percent of new computers sold worldwide.

Windows 7 adoption in enterprise markets has been somewhat slow but deployment is expected to pick up in most markets as we move towards the end of the year. Other volatile regions are anticipating a slower deployment for various economic and political reasons.

"Steady improvements in IT budgets in 2010 and 2011 are helping to accelerate the deployment of Windows 7 in enterprise markets in the U.S. and Asia/Pacific, where Windows 7 migrations started in large volume from 4Q10," said Annette Jump, research director at Gartner. "However, the economic uncertainties in Western Europe, political instability in selected Middle East and Africa (MEA) countries and the economic slowdown in Japan after the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 will likely lead to slightly late and slow deployment for Windows 7 across those regions."

Gartner believes that Windows 7 will be the last Microsoft OS that gets deployed through traditional means. Within the next five years, they suspect that many organizations will move toward cloud computing and virtualization to deliver desktop environments to employees.

The retail version of Windows 7 launched in October 2009 and became the highest grossing pre-order in Amazon history. The successor to Windows Vista, 7 has increased in ownership rather quickly in less than two years. As of two months ago, Windows 7 was installed on one in four computers.

The adoption of Windows 7 has caused the continual decline of Windows XP, which fell below the 50 percent mark last month. Microsoft will continue to support the aging OS until April 8, 2014 when all support and updates will be terminated. Windows Vista usage was down to only 9 percent as of July 2011.