Vista is set for rapid uptake by UK businesses over the next two years, according to research released this week.
According to nationwide research conducted by the National Computing Centre (NCC), an organisation representing corporate IT professionals, 12 percent of desktops will be running Vista by the end of 2008.
In contrast, Linux will fail to achieve any significant levels of penetration on the desktop. The NCC's research found just one Linux desktop for every 300 running Windows XP, with that ratio expected to reach 1:125 in two years' time. This means the total installed base will more than double, but will still represent only a tiny part of the overall market.
Businesses told the NCC that they would adopt Vista — Microsoft's next operating system, which is due to be launched at the end of November — on 12 percent of desktops within the next two years, marking a faster uptake than was seen for the launch of Windows XP.
When XP was launched in 2001, the NCC asked the same question and found that only 5.5 percent of desktops would convert to the new operating system within two years. Now, 62 percent of corporate desktops run XP.
"We expect uptake to be very much faster than for XP," NCC group marketing manager Michael Dean told ZDNet UK."The user community sees Vista as a more reliable product."
Asked whether he thought businesses had more confidence in the Microsoft platform, Dean said, "There seems to be. Windows Server 2003 is dominant and it's no great surprise given the number of XP desktops."
In contrast, Linux would remain relatively unused on the desktop, Dean said. "Most organisations are only using it in a minor role. There is growth in Linux, but it is typically at the expense of Unix," Dean said, referring to the success open-source software had enjoyed in the server space.
"We have not witnessed wholesale conversion to Linux at the desktop," Dean added.
Several high-profile test deployments of Linux on the desktop are taking place across Europe, as in the city of Munich. If successful, they may lead to faster take-up of desktop Linux in the future.
The NCC's findings are more optimistic than those of other experts. Gartner has argued that most enterprises can safely avoid upgrading to Vista until 2008. And IDC analyst Al Gillen has argued that adoption will be driven by the timing of enterprise upgrade cycles, and prefers an estimate that 11 percent of Windows PCs will be upgraded to Vista during 2007.
Microsoft has set itself the most ambitious target of all. Brad Goldberg, general manager of Windows product management told ZDNet's US sister site, CNET News.com, that Microsoft expects Vista to be installed on 20 percent of business desktops by the end of 2007.
The NCC's research also analysed IT spend by industry sector, and found financial sector companies far outstripping the rest of the economy in terms of new technology and investment in IT staff. In contrast, public sector technology spending was lagging behind.